House Dean John Dingell to Announce Retirement (Updated) (Video)
Posted at 9:15 a.m. on Feb. 24
Updated 11:32 a.m. | Rep. John D. Dingell, the longtime Michigan Democrat and dean of the House, will announce on Monday that he will not seek re-election.
“I’m not going to be carried out feet first,” Dingell said in an interview with the Detroit News.
“I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” Dingell, 87, added in the interview. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”
First elected to Congress in 1955, Dingell, 87, is the longest-serving member of Congress in history, a milestone he earned in June. He became the longest-serving House member in 2009.
One of Dingell’s greatest accomplishments in his nearly six-decadelong career was the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care overhaul law that he helped pass in 2010. Although Dingell pushed for universal health care legislation at the beginning of every Congress since his election in 1955, he still counts the ACA as an achievement.
“Well, I’ll be damned. We did it,” Dingell told The Associated Press after the Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012.
Dingell is also one of the automobile industry’s top allies in Congress. In recent years, he played a key role in the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009. He also opposed higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles — standards he helped usher through Congress in the 1970s — a fight that partially cost him his chairmanship on the House Energy and Commerce Committee several years ago.
Dingell was the top Democrat on the panel for years before Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif. successfully challenged him for the gavel in 2008. After Waxman announced his retirement last month, Dingell had indicated that he might be willing to stay to win back the ranking member slot on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
But Dingell ultimately decided it was time to step down.
“I’ve done most of what I came to do,” Dingell also told the Detroit News. “You’re never satisfied. But I know I’ve done the best I could.”
Dingell’s retirement creates an opening in his Ann Arbor-based House district for the first time in more than half a century. Michigan Democratic operatives say Dingell’s wife, Debbie, could run for the seat.
Michigan’s 12th District is rated a Safe Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. President Barack Obama carried the district by a 34-point margin in 2012.
Dingell is the 20th member of the House to announce retirement this cycle. Check out Roll Call’s Casualty List for the full list of retirements.
Emma Dumain contributed to this report.