House Hearing Room Named After Rep. John Dingell
WASHINGTON—Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) plans to retire at the end of the year. The 87-year-old is the longest-serving member of Congress, according to The New York Times. He entered Congress Dec. 13, 1955, and frequently drilled hearing witnesses with a demand for yes-or-no answers.
Dingell was chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee from 1981 to 1994 and again from 2007 to 2008. Though Thomas Bliley, D-Va., chaired the committee when lawmakers were wrestling with and eventually passing the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Dingell remained part of the core committee leadership team working on the first update to the legislation since the inception of the 1934 Communications Act.
The legislation ushered in mass changes to the radio ownership landscape, leading to much larger radio companies; national radio ownership limits were abolished and local limits changed to the tiered system we have today, allowing one entity to own up to eight stations in the largest markets.
The Internet was in its infancy when the act was updated. Now that media has many new competitors, lawmakers are again working on an update to the act. Of the new effort, Dingell recently said: “As the author of every major telecommunications statute for the past three decades, I caution my Republican colleagues to approach modernizing the Communications Act with great care and attention to detail. Changes should not be made simply for change’s sake, but rather based on clear and documented need. I urge my colleagues to proceed in a bipartisan manner and to hold numerous hearings in order to generate the record an undertaking this substantial will require.”
Of Dingell’s decision not to run for reelection after his term expires at the end of the year, NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith stated: “John Dingell has been a force of nature on Capitol Hill for more than a half a century, and his legislative accomplishments will stand the test of time. Upon his retirement, broadcasters will be losing a great friend, but Congress and the American people will be losing a patriot and living legend.”
Current House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., named the main committee hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building in honor of Dingell last year. He says the term “legendary” will always be associated with the name “John Dingell.” “By any standard, he will not only be viewed as the ‘Dean of the House,’ but also one with an incredible record of getting the job done.”