Feb. 24 - Democratic Congressman John Dingell of Michigan, the longest serving member in Congress, says he will retire at the end of the year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Michigan Democrat John Dingell, a gruff legislator who has served longer in Congress than any other person in history, will retire from the House of Representatives after this year. Dingell formally announced his plan to leave Congress on Monday at a luncheon in metropolitan Detroit. "Like many of you, I have found great disappoint in this Congress. I want you to know this is not the reason Debbie and I are leaving the Congress. We are leaving it for quite a different reason and that is we want to enjoy a little bit of peace, and quiet, and contentment amongst the people we have known and loved for so long," Dingell said. Once a tall, imposing figure who came to Congress in 1955, Dingell in recent years has had to navigate Capitol Hill in a motorized scooter with a vanity plate that reads "THE DEAN." Before earning that title, Dingell was sometimes known as "the truck," as he used his Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship spanning 16 years to push major legislation ranging from the breakup of AT&T and cable deregulation to the Endangered Species Act and Clean Air Act. Healthcare was another signature issue for Dingell, playing a role in the 1965 passage of Medicare and enactment of President Barack Obama's 2010 landmark Affordable Care Act, now known as "Obamacare." He sometimes found himself on the losing end of legislative fights, notably the 1993 approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Detroit News is reporting Dingell's wife, Debbie, a Democratic Party activist with deep ties to the General Motors Company, might run for the congressional seat in November's elections. If she were to run and win, Michigan voters would continue an unbroken line of Dingells serving in Congress that began in 1933 when John Dingell Sr., was first elected to the House and was replaced by his son 58 years ago. Democrats believe they will easily hold onto this seat in November's election. The racially-mixed congressional district, which includes the auto manufacturing center of Dearborn outside of Detroit, voted overwhelmingly for Obama in his successful 2012 re-election. Dingell is the latest in a string of senior Democrats to leave Congress this year, including Senator John Rockefeller of West Virginia and Representative Henry Waxman of California.