Rep. John Dingell set to become 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

John Dingell was just six years old when he first stepped foot on the House floor in 1933 with his Congressman father. As a House Page, he heard Roosevelt declare war against Japan. Then in 1955, at the age of 29, he was first elected to Congress.

Fifty-seven years later, Dingell is set to become the longest-serving member of Congress in history.

Dingell, 86, has seen Congress pass some of its most formative legislation, such as the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, Medicare and The Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, two major environmental laws.

In an interview for "Face the Nation," Dingell told Bob Schieffer there is one bill he regrets voting for.

"There's one vote that I have regretted ever since I made it," he said, "And that was the vote I made on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution." Dingell says that vote, which led the country into the war in Vietnam, was based on bad intelligence about the situation in Southeast Asia and taught him a lesson that he applied to voting against the Iraq War under President George W. Bush.

Reflecting on the current state of Congress, Dingell recalled a time when the parties worked together. "Whenever I was chairman of a committee or subcommittee," Dingell told Schieffer, "I always became a close friend of the senior Republican."

"You don't find that anymore," he added.

Dingell pointed to the influence of money in Congress and the pressure to stay in district as two forces changing Congress for the worse.

"The idea that I find most appalling is somehow or other people have gotten the idea that compromise and conciliation, cooperation are bad words, those are not. Those are words that the founding fathers intended us to guide this country by, to work together to solve the great problems of this nation, and we're losing--regrettably--that ability," he told Schieffer.

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    Louise Dufresne is an Associate Producer for Face the Nation.