Michigan's John Dingell, longest-serving member of Congress, is retiring

87-year-old Michigan representative was first elected in 1955

DETROIT - Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history, is retiring.

Dingell issued a statement on Monday saying he would not seek re-election at the end of his term.

"Around this time every two years, my wife Deborah and I confer on the question of whether I will seek reelection. My standards are high for this job. I put myself to the test and have always known that when the time came that I felt I could not live up to my own personal standard for a member of Congress, it would be time to step aside for someone else to represent this district," Dingell said. "That time has come."

Read full statement: Dingell retiring, but will work until last minute of term

The 87-year-old democrat and Dean of the House of Representatives was first elected in 1955, filling the House seat vacated by his late father.

Dingell set the record for the longest-serving member last year when he hit 58 years of service.

He currently represents Michigan's 12th District.

"I have ten months more in Congress, and I'm not going to waste a minute. There's still a lot to be done and a lot I want to do," Dingell said.

Read full statement: President Barack Obama on Dingell's retirement

Dingell is the former chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He developed an intimidating, even feared, presence for his habit of bringing people before the committee to testify under oath.

It's long been rumored that there was a picture of planet earth hung outside the committee's hearing room, and whenever someone asked about the committee's jurisdiction, Dingell would simply point at the picture.

Dingell has also been a master of legislative deal-making and staunch advocate for the U.S. auto industry.

"First of all, I never represented the industry. I represented the people who work in it. I represented 800,000 citizens of Michigan, and a lot of others cities, who are absolutely dependent on that industry," Dingell told Local 4's Devin Scillian during an interview on Flashpoint. "I'll remind you, Devin, that every piece of legislation that was written about the auto industry, I wrote. And, it's all been good."

Dubbed "Big John" for his imposing 6-foot-3 frame and sometimes intimidating manner, a reputation bolstered by the wild game heads decorating his Washington office, Dingell has served with every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also was known as a dogged pursuer of government waste and fraud, helping take down two top presidential aides while chairman of a powerful investigative panel.

"Presidents come and presidents go," former President Bill Clinton said in 2005, when Dingell celebrated 50 years in Congress. "John Dingell goes on forever."

View: Rep. Candice Miller's statement on Dingell's retirement

Dingell has played a role in a number of major pieces of legislation, including President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Medicare.

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