Who are the Longest-Serving Members of U.S Congress (House and Senate)
Since US Congress convened in 1789, 32Members have served 40 years or longer in the House of Representatives. In cases in which a Member’s tenure is not consecutive, service dates are provided in the footnotes.
The United States Congress, or upper chamber, works in conjunction with the United States House of Representatives, or lower chamber, to serve as the legislature of the United States.
GOP Rep. Don Young – the Alaska lawmaker was first elected to Congress in 1973 and was the longest-serving congressional Republican in U.S. history.
Don Young, a Republican representative, passed away on Friday, March 18, 2022, at the age of 88, according to a statement released by his office. Young passed away just as he was getting ready to run for reelection to a 26th term in Congress.
In 2019, Young surpassed former House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois to become the Republican with the longest tenure in Congress.
Young was born in Meridian, California, in 1933. In 1952, he received an associate’s degree from Yuba Junior College, and in 1958, he graduated from Chico State College with a bachelor’s degree in teaching. He served in the 41st Tank Battalion of the American Army for two years, from 1955 to 1957.
When Alaska became a U.S. state in 1959, Young relocated there and worked in the construction industry. According to his congressional website, he also “tried his hand” at gold mining, fishing, and trapping. He eventually relocated to Fort Yukon, a small community of 700 people located just miles above the Arctic Circle, and in 1964 was elected mayor. Young served in both chambers of the state legislature before being elected to Congress two years later in Juneau.
Young had two kids with his first wife, Lu. The couple had been married for 46 years when she passed away in 2009. In 2015, Young and Anne Garland Walton got hitched.
The results of 427 of the 435 House seats in the 2020 election are in, but it is already clear that all of the U.S. Representatives who are among the House’s longest-serving members have been reelected. Don Young (R-AK), the U.S. representative with the longest tenure. Young began his first term as a representative at the beginning of 1973, but three other Representatives made their debuts in 1981 and are still in office 40 years later.
Rep. John Lewis, who had previously shared fifth place on the list, passed away in office earlier this year at the age of 80. Georgia’s civil rights pioneer was serving his 34th term in Congress. Having begun his first term in 1985, two years prior to Lewis, fellow Democrat Peter Visclosky (D-IN) was fourth on the list of the Representatives with the longest tenures. After 36 years in office, Visclosky did not provide a justification for not running for reelection in 2020.
After the 2018 midterm elections, two long-serving representatives left Congress at their own discretion. Joe Barton (R-TX), a member of the tea party, retired at the age of 69 after serving in office for 34 years starting in 1985 and enduring the occasional scandal. Representative Sandy Levin (D-MI) demonstrated a unique incumbent advantage. After serving in Congress for 36 years, he decided not to run for reelection, but his son Andy did and quickly took his place.
The late Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) served in Congress for the longest period of time. He served in the House for 59 years, 29 times being re-elected, not just in office. He will always be remembered, however, for his remarkable 59-year legislative career, which spanned all or part of 11 presidencies.
John David Dingell Jr., a former U.S. Representative who served as one of the House’s most powerful chairs and contributed to the creation and passage of some of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history, passed away on Thursday, February 7, 2019. He was 92.
Dingell, of Dearborn, served nearly 60 years in the House, making him the longest-serving member in Congress’ history. He stepped down in early 2015.
Known in Washington and metro Detroit as Big John or “the truck” for his hard-charging personality, Dingell was an iconic presence in both.
After retiring at age 88, Dingell surprisingly embraced Twitter, reveling in the brevity of the form. He had more than 258,000 followers as he made playful, often sarcastic comments on culture (“Staff has now informed me of what a Kardashian is. I’m only left with more questions”), Michigan sports (“Say what you will about the Lions, they’ve nearly perfected walking backward between plays while the flags are being picked up”) and politics.
1.Longest-serving Representative to serve in the House – Of All Time
With more than 59 years of service, Representative John Dingell, Jr., of Michigan, holds the record for longest consecutive service.
2.Longest-serving member in the Senate
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)spent the most years in the Senate, at 51 years, 5 months and 26 days.
3.Four of the top 10 longest-serving members of Congress — Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Ron Wyden (R-Ore.), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — have served in both chambers.
4.Longest-serving Speaker of the House
Sam Rayburn of Texas served as Speaker for a total of 17 years, two months, and two days.
5.Oldest person recorded to have served in the House
Born in 1923, Representative Ralph Hall of Texas is the oldest person to have served in the House. Hall retired in 2015, at the age of 91. Prior to 2012, Representative Charles Manly Stedman of North Carolina, who died in office on September 23, 1930, at the age of 89 years, 7 months, and 25 days held the designation.
6.Youngest person ever to be elected to the House
Representative William Charles Cole Claiborne of Tennessee, elected to the 5th Congress (1797–1799) at the age of 22. The youngest woman to be elected is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, sworn in to the 116th Congress (2019–2021) at the age of 29 years, 2 months, 22 days. The prior record was held by Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, elected to the 114th Congress (2015–2017) at the age of 30.
7.Longest Period of Nonconsecutive Service in the House
At 34 years, Representative Philip F. Thomas of Maryland has the longest period of nonconsecutive service in House history. Representative Thomas served in the 26th Congress (1839–1841), and was later re-elected to the 44th Congress (1875–1877).
The average American is 20 years younger than the average representative in the House and Senate. Forty percent of current senators and 26% of representatives are 65 years or older — and many have strolled the Capitol’s marble halls for decades. Less than 5% of members are from the ages of 25 to 40, compared to 33% of the U.S. population, Quorum notes.
and Nov 7, 1956-Jan 3, 2003
and Mar 4, 1895-Nov 24, 1929
and Jan 3, 1943-Dec 27, 1978
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