John Dingell’s Congress: A Lot Has Changed Since 1955

Feb 24, 2014 4:30pm

GTY dingell congress changed jtm 140224 16x9 608 John Dingells Congress: A Lot Has Changed Since 1955

(Congressman John Dingell | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

The year was 1955. Ray Kroc opened his first McDonalds restaurant, a Swiss engineer patented Velcro, the U.S. added the words, “In God We Trust” to paper currency, and Michigan’s 15th district elected Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat, to Congress. He was just 29 years old.

A lot has changed in the ensuing decades, but one thing hasn’t: Dingell is still a member of the U.S. House, at least until November. Affectionately dubbed “the Dean,” Dingell, 87, is officially Congress’ longest-serving member. During his 58-year tenure on Capitol Hill, 11 presidents delivered 51 State of the Union addresses and 23 justices were named to the Supreme Court.

But Dingell, who cast more than 25,000 votes in the House Chamber, is finally calling it quits. He announced his intention to retire today in Michigan.

Here’s a glimpse at how the world has changed since he first took office:

1955 Now
Congress 84th 113th
House majority party Democrats Republicans
Cost of a gallon of milk 92 cents $3.65
President Dwight. D. Eisenhower Barack Obama
Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, D-Texas John Boehner, R- Ohio
Number of U.S. states 48 50
Number of bills passed during first session 390 58
Key pieces of legislation  Air Pollution Control Act, Formosa Resolution of 1955 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013
Congressional salary $22,500 $174,000
Number of Dingell staffers 1 (according to The New York Times) 18
House voting method Roll call, teller votes Primarily electronic voting (implemented 1973)
US population 165.93 million 316.99 million
TIME Person of the Year GM Executive Harlow Herbert Curtice Pope Francis
Most popular baby names Michael, Mary Jackson, Sophia
Most popular car  Chevrolet Bel Air Ford F-series
FLSA minimum wage 75 cents (amended to $1 later that year) $7.25
Major events Warsaw pact, US Military Intervention in Iran, Hurricane Diane, Flight 629 explosion, UK National Rail Strike Typhoon Haiyan, Syrian chemical weapons, U.S. government shutdown, Boston Marathon Bombing, Nelson Mandela death, Nairobi mall terror
Political issues Civil rights, nuclear missiles, pollution Healthcare, immigration reform, gun control, gay marriage, abortion
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