Longest-Serving Member of U.S Congress
Longest-Serving Member of U.S Congress

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.

Who was the Longest-Serving Member of US Congress Right Now - Don Young Biography

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.

GOP Rep. Don Young died Friday, March 18, 2022, at age 88 while traveling home to Alaska, his office said in a statement. Young’s death comes as he was preparing a re-election campaign for a 26th term in Congress.

In 2019, Young became the longest-serving Republican in congressional history, surpassing former House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois.

Young was born in 1933 in Meridian, California. He earned an associate’s degree from Yuba Junior College in 1952 and later received a bachelor’s degree in teaching at Chico State College in 1958. He served two years in the U.S. Army’s 41st Tank Battalion, from 1955 to 1957.

Don Young, dean of the House, dies at 88
Don Young, dean of the House, dies at 88

Young moved to Alaska in 1959, when it became a U.S. state, and worked in construction. He also "tried his hand" at fishing and trapping and searched for gold, according to his congressional website. He eventually settled in Fort Yukon, a remote town of 700 residents just miles above the Arctic Circle, and became mayor in 1964. Two years later, Young was elected to the state Legislature in Juneau and served in both chambers before heading to Congress.

Young and his first wife, Lu, had two children. She died in 2009; the couple had been married for 46 years. Young and Anne Garland Walton were married in 2015.

Top 8 Longest Serving Representatives in the House - 2022

Who are the Longest-Serving Members of U.S Congress
Who are the Longest Serving Representatives in the House

427 out of 435 House seats in the 2020 election have been called but it is already clear that all U.S. Representatives among the longest-serving members of the House have won reelection. The longest serving U.S. representative, Don Young (R-AK). While Young started his first term in the beginning of 1973, three more Representatives had their debuts in 1981 and are still going strong after 40 years.

Rep. John Lewis - formerly in a joint fifth place on the list - died in office earlier in the year at age 80. The civil rights leader from Georgia was serving his 34th year in Congress. Fellow Democrat Peter Visclosky (D-IN) was fourth on the list of the longest-serving Representatives, having started his first term two years before Lewis, in 1985. Visclosky did not give a reason why he wasn't seeking reelection in 2020 after 36 years.

Two long-time Reps had already left Congress after the 2018 midterms at their own discretion. Tea party member Joe Barton (R-TX) had served 34 years since 1985 and weathered the odd scandal before calling it a day at age 69. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI) proved a special incumbent advantage. He didn't seek reelection after 36 years in Congress, but his son Andy ran and promptly won his father's seat.

Who was the Longest-Serving Member of Congress in the US History

The longest-serving member of Congress ever was the late Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich). He spent 59 years not just in office but in the House alone — winning re-election 29 times. He will always be known first and foremost, however, for a remarkable legislative tenure that lasted 59 years — spanning all or part of 11 presidencies.

Former U.S. Rep. John David Dingell Jr., who was one of the U.S. House’s most powerful chairmen and helped write and pass some of the most consequential legislation in the nation's history, died Thursday, Feb 7, 2019. He was 92.

Who are the Longest-Serving Members of U.S Congress
Rep. John Dingell

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.

Record Holders in the U.S Congress

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).

8.Ages

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.

Top 20 Longest-Serving Senators in the US

Senators Dates of Senate Service Length of Service
1. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) Jan 3, 1959-Jun 28, 2010 51 years, 5 months, 26 days
2. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) Jan 3, 1963-Dec 17, 2012 49 years, 11 months, 15 days
3. Strom Thurmond (D, R-SC) Dec 14, 1954-Apr 4, 1956

and Nov 7, 1956-Jan 3, 2003

47 years, 5 months, 8 days
4. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) Jan 3, 1975-present 47 years, 1 month, 11 days
5. Edward M. Kennedy (Ted) (D-MA) Nov 7, 1962-Aug 25, 2009 46 years, 9 months, 19 days
6. Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) Jan 3, 1977-Jan 3, 2019 42 years
7. Carl T. Hayden (D-AZ) Mar 4, 1927-Jan 3, 1969 41 years, 10 months
8. John C. Stennis (D-MS) Nov 5, 1947-Jan 3, 1989 41 years, 1 month, 29 days
9. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Jan 3, 1981-present 41 years, 1 month, 11 days
10. Ted Stevens (R-AK) Dec 24, 1968-Jan 3, 2009 40 years, 10 days
11. Thad Cochran (R-MS) Dec 27, 1978-Apr 1, 2018 39 years, 3 months, 6 days
12. Fritz Hollings (D-SC) Nov 9, 1966-Jan 3, 2005 38 years, 1 month, 25 days
13. Richard B. Russell, Jr. (D-GA) Jan 12, 1933-Jan 21, 1971 38 years, 10 days
14. Russell B. Long (D-LA) Dec 31, 1948-Jan 3, 1987 38 years, 3 days
15. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Jan 3, 1985-present 37 years, 1 month, 11 days
16. Francis E. Warren (R-WY) Nov 18, 1890-Mar 3, 1893

and Mar 4, 1895-Nov 24, 1929

37 years, 4 days
17. James O. Eastland (D-MS) Jun 30, 1941-Sep 28, 1941

and Jan 3, 1943-Dec 27, 1978

36 years, 2 months, 24 days
18. Warren G. Magnuson (D-WA) Dec 14, 1944-Jan 3,1981 36 years, 20 days
19. Joe Biden (D-DE) Jan 3, 1973-Jan 15, 2009 36 years, 13 days
20. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) Jan 3, 1973-Jan 3, 2009 36 years
20. Carl Levin (D-MI) Jan 3, 1979-Jan 3, 2015 36 years

Top Members who served 40 years or longer in both the House and the Senate

Member Name Party State Days in Office Years in Office1 Start Date
Dingell, John, Jr. Democrat MI 21,572 59.06 December 13, 1955
Whitten, Jamie L. Democrat MS 19,419 53.17 November 4, 1941
Conyers, John, Jr. Democrat MI 19,330 52.92 January 3, 1965
Vinson, Carl Democrat GA 18,325 50.17 November 3, 1914
Celler, Emanuel Democrat NY 18,204 49.84 March 4, 1923
Young, Donald2 Republican AK 17,837 48.84 March 6, 1973
Rayburn, Sam Democrat TX 17,790 48.71 March 4, 1913
Yates, Sidney3 Democrat IL 17,533 48.00 January 3, 1949
Patman, Wright Democrat TX 17,171 47.01 March 4, 1929
Rangel, Charles Democrat NY 16,803 45.94 January 3, 1971
Cannon, Joseph4 Republican IL 16,800 46.00 March 4, 1873
Sabath, Adolph Democrat IL 16,685 45.68 March 4, 1907
Bennett, Charles E. Democrat FL 16,072 44.00 January 3, 1949
Mahon, George Democrat TX 16,072 44.00 January 3, 1935
Price, Melvin Democrat IL 15,816 43.30 January 3, 1945
Young, C.W. (Bill) Republican FL 15,630 42.79 January 3, 1971
McCormack, John Democrat MA 15,399 42.16 November 6, 1928
Sensenbrenner, Frank James, Jr. Republican WI 15,342 42.00 January 3, 1979
Brooks, Jack Democrat TX 15,341 42.00 January 3, 1953
Doughton, Robert Democrat NC 15,282 41.84 March 4, 1911
Martin, Joseph W. Republican MA 15,281 41.84 March 4, 1925
Obey, David Democrat WI 15,253 41.76 April 1, 1969
Cannon, Clarence Democrat MO 15,046 41.19 March 4, 1923
Rogers, Harold (Hal)2 Republican KY 14,977 41.01 January 3, 1981
Smith, Christopher2 Republican NJ 14,977 41.01 January 3, 1981
Poage, William Democrat TX 14,976 41.00 January 3, 1937
Natcher, William Democrat KY 14,851 40.66 August 1, 1953
Steny Hoyer2 Democrat MD 14,841 40.63 May 19, 1981
Miller, George Democrat CA 14,611 40.00 January 3, 1975
Rodino, Peter, Jr. Democrat NJ 14,611 40.00 January 3, 1949
Stark, Fortney (Pete) Democrat CA 14,611 40.00 January 3, 1973
Waxman, Henry A. Democrat CA 14,611 40.00 January 3, 1975

Footnotes:

1Years are determined by using 365.2425 days per year, the average length of a year on the Gregorian calendar.

2Current Member

3Served in the 81st to 87th Congresses (January 3, 1949–January 3, 1963) and the 89th to 105th Congresses (January 3, 1965–January 3, 1999).

4Served in the 43rd to 51st Congresses (March 4, 1873–March 3, 1891), the 53rd to the 62nd Congresses (March 4, 1893–March 3, 1913), and the 64th to the 67th Congresses (March 4, 1915–March 3, 1923).