Dingell Retirement Sets Up Historic First (and Second).Â Today the longest serving member of the U.S. House, Rep. John Dingell, said he will retire at the end of the year. Dingell turns 88 in July.Â He has served in Congress for 58 years — since 1955.Â Dingell was on the House floor serving as a page when President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his famous Pearl Harbor “day of infamy” speech.
With Dingell’s retirement, a probable historic first may take place a year from now as Rep. John Conyers is currently second behind Dingell in seniority.Â Conyers is now set to become number one in House seniority and Rep. Charlie Rangel would be number two.Â Â It would be the first time in American history that a African American member would be the House’s most senior member.
Conyers will be 85 in May.Â He has served in the House since 1965, when Lyndon Johnson was President.Â If Conyers and Rangel both get by primary challengers they will return to the House in 2015.
Rangel, who will turn 84 in June, is now number three in House seniority.Â Rangel has served in the House since 1971.Â His last primary challenge in 2012 was a very close one, but he is still very well liked in his Harlem district.Â But with changing demographics, he is expected to have another close race.Â The growing Hispanic population and the redistricting of Rangel’s district has changed the game over the last two cycles.Â
Unlike in the Senate, where the most senior member has special authority and power, being number one in seniority in the House holds no special powers.Â However, if two African American become number one and two in seniority it will mark a special historic milestone that would be a first in American history.