Turns out Georgetown graduates not only get into Congress, they stay there. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) has served 29 terms in Congress since he arrived in 1955, and he declared last month that he plans to run for a 30th term as well.

As the longest-serving representative currently in Congress, Dingell had plenty of experience to speak from in his visit Tuesday to the newly renovated Public Policy Institute.

The event, which was moderated by Dean of Public Policy Edward Montgomery, provided an open forum for audience members to ask Dingell questions ranging from his political stances to his experience in the House of Representatives.

In his introduction, Montgomery praised Dingell for his steadfast service to the country, which includes two years of Army service during World War II. “He has had a very distinguished legislative career after living in what John Brokaw called ‘The Greatest Generation,'” Montgomery said.

Dingell spoke about his time in the Army as well as the years that followed, touching on his work as a park ranger, a prosecutor and a researcher before following his father — another congressional representative — into politics. He then turned his attention to pressing policy issues.

Dingell addressed the polarization of the political spectrum, advocating for more dialogue between congressional colleagues. He said that the introduction of C-SPAN and the broadcast of congressional meetings had interrupted a tradition of interaction.

“When you watch my colleagues on the floor or in committee, you will see them looking at the camera, which is in the gallery, rather than looking at their colleagues,” he said. “That’s a bad thing. I’ve seen the day, and I’m very proud of it, when members were able to talk.”

Still, Dingell refused to say that bipartisanship is an idea of the past. Rather, he said, representatives are still working together across the political divide, and he anticipates that bipartisan legislation will become increasingly more important going forward.

“[Bipartisanship] was never dead, it’s not now dead and it will have to come back when the need is there,” he said.

Dingell did not shy away from addressing contentious issues including U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s January court decision that declared the individual mandate of last year’s health care reform unconstitutional. In response to a question regarding the decision, Dingell said that he believes Vinson’s verdict was out of line and poorly argued.

“First of all, bad decision, bad judge, bad interpretation of the law, bad consequences, and I don’t think it is going to be sustained,” he said.

Despite the difficulties facing this Congress, Dingell emphasized that he is optimistic about the outlook for this round of debate and legislation, though he remains cautious after last year’s laborious political battles.

“The Congress has, I hope, great promise,” he said.

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