Dingell Celebrates 85th Birthday, House Celebrates Dingell

By Eliza

Jul 8, 2011 12:16pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:

Although Congress is bitterly divided on a solution to the nation’s looming debt limit crisis, there was a rare bipartisan moment on the House floor moments ago when Republicans and Democrats alike took to the floor to honor the longest current serving member of Congress, the Dean of the House, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who turned 85 years old today.

“Ladies and gentlemen this is a wonderful day of celebration,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland began. “Today we celebrate the 85th birthday of an extraordinary American. An American who has served over 5/8ths of his life in this House. An American whose father served before him. An American who has been sent to the Congress Congress after Congress after Congress after Congress. A member who has made an extraordinary contribution to the legislative history of this Congress and to the welfare of this country.  John Dingell today is 85 years of age.”

The chamber, which was full of members following a vote, erupted into applause.

Dingell, who walks slowly with the help of a cane and often uses a motorized scooter to commute between the Capitol and his congressional office across the street, stood up in the chamber to wave and acknowledge the bipartisan gesture from his congressional colleagues.

Dingell, born July 8, 1926, is about three years younger than Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, the oldest member of the House. Elected at age 29 and now serving in his 29th term, the Michigan Democrat has served longer than any other member in the history of the House of Representatives, and needs to serve only about two more years to become the longest serving legislator in the history of the Congress.

Rep. Joe Barton, a 14-term Republican from Texas, seized the Republicans’ podium to honor his tenured colleague, who he served alongside for 26 years on the House Energy and Commerce committee.

“What some of our newer members may not know is what a gentleman Chairman Dingell is and the uniqueness of his character is that he will impart his wisdom to those of us in the opposition party and encourage us to then go out and use it against him knowing that he is smart enough, tough enough, and effective enough to beat us at our own game,” Barton said.

“He is truly a paragon of this Congress and will go down in my estimation in history as one of the top-10 congressmen or women off all-time,” Barton predicted. “I want to extend him my warmest 85th birthday wishes, and get him to guarantee that as long as he is able he will serve in this body because he is truly a treasure for both sides of the aisle.”

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