John Dingell, the longest-serving congressman in American history, today announced that he will retire at the end of his current term. "I'm not going to be carried out feet first," the 87-year-old Michigan rep said at a luncheon with the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Dingell was first elected to his late father's seat way back in 1955. He passed Robert Byrd's longest-serving record in June, according to the AP. Dingell insisted he was still healthy enough to do the job, and "as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill," but that he was tired of partisan gridlock.
"I find serving in the House to be obnoxious," he said. "It's become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets. ... This is not the Congress I know and love. It's hard for me to accept, but it's time to cash it in." Rumors had been swirling that Dingell might step down, but he seemed to dispel them less than two weeks ago with an email promising to continue fighting for unemployment benefits and the spirit of compromise. His wife, Debbie Dingell, a DNC member and former GM executive some 30 years his junior, is expected to run to replace him. (Read more John Dingell stories.)