John Dingell becomes longest-serving member of Congress

Face to Face: Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. - soon to be the longest-serving member of Congress in history - reflects on how deals used to get made at a time when bills actually made it to the House floor. Evan Vucci

President Obama and members of Congress today congratulated Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., for becoming the longest-serving member of Congress.

The 86-year-old Dingell -- who has no plans to retire -- has represented Michigan's 12th district for 57 years and 177 days, eclipsing the record of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V.

The president praised Dingell for working tirelessly for his Michigan constituents and America.

"He has helped pass some of the most important laws of the last half-century, from Medicare to the Civil Rights Act to the Clean Air Act to the Affordable Care Act, and he continues to fight for workers' rights, access to affordable healthcare, and the preservation of our environment for future generations to enjoy," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

The president added that he looks forward to congratulating Dingell in person at the White House next week. The Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate will also honor Dingell's service next week in a celebration at the Capitol.

"Today belongs to John Dingell, one of the greats and the very definition of a man of the House," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. "His devotion to his constituents and his country, the many battles he's fought and won on behalf of the American people, and the sheer joy he takes in his work have made him synonymous with this institution. I'm honored to call John a good friend, and I know the whole House joins me in congratulating him on this milestone."

Dingell was elected in 1955 to the House seat formerly held by his father, John Dingell, Sr. While just 29 years old, he already had experience on the House floor, where as a teenager he served as a congressional page.

On CBSNews.com's "Face to Face," Dingell recalled being on the House floor when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war on Japan in 1941. Dingell said he was responsible for taking care of radio broadcaster Fulton Lewis, Jr.'s tape recorder. "We were scared to death that the country could lose the war," he said.

Dingell also recalled serving in Congress when "the institution worked."

He told CBS News' Bob Schieffer that when a congressional committee took up an issue, its members would "roll up our sleeves and just fight like hell. When we were done, we had a hard agreement" to take to the House floor. Now, he said, all agreements are made in congressional leaders' offices.

Dingell will be on CBS' "Face the Nation" this Sunday.

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