Dingell sets record in U.S. Congress

AFP-JIJI

Democratic Rep. John Dingell on Friday became the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, capping a monumental career on Capitol Hill that began six years before President Barack Obama was born.

The 86-year-old from Michigan entered the record books when he began his 20,997th day in the House of Representatives, eclipsing the previous milestone held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

The hard-nosed legislator, who once made Republican adversaries or witnesses at his hearings quiver, has been on the job since Dec. 13, 1955, claiming the seat that his father held for 22 years until his death.

Of his estimated 25,000 votes, Dingell said the most important was his support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed racial segregation. He said the issues that drove him in decades past — protecting Medicare and Social Security, and seeing that the auto industry prospers — are what keep him in office.