John Dingell is the 86-year-old Democratic representative of Michigan’s 12th congressional district and current Dean of the House of Representatives. Today, after 57 years, 5 months, and 26 days, Dingell becomes the longest-serving member of Congress, beating out the late Robert Bryd (D-W.Va.).
Dingell is the son of John D. Dingell Sr., a Michigan congressman who served for 23 years starting in 1933. Dingell Jr. sits on the six subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and he votes on the Subcommittee on Health, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. He also has a pretty happenin’ Twitter account.
On a recent episode of The Colbert Report, Dingell lamented the stubborn partisanship that he has seen become deeply imbedded in Congress over the last five decades. To Colbert’s question on the biggest change Dingell had seen in Washington over the past 57 years, he replied, “loss of collegiality.” He then claimed that the bill he is most proud to have voted on was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ”Compromise is an honorable word,” said Dingell.
Dingell’s term contrasts sharpest with that of Effingham Lawrence, the shortest serving member of Congress ever. Lawrence took his seat representing the 1st Congressional District of Louisiana on March 3, 1875 after a long battle contesting the election of Jacob Hale Sypher to the same spot. Unfortunately, March 3, 1875 was the last day of the session of the 43rd US Congress. Lawrence served for one day, decided not to run for re-election, and returned to farming as soon as the session ended.