WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is the longest serving member in Congress, making him the “Dean of the House.” This largely symbolic role allowed him to swear in Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), but also makes him a father figure of sorts on Capitol Hill. With a lot of new faces in Congress, the old guard has his hands full.
“Sometimes they don’t listen to me, sometimes they do,” said Young.
Alaska’s lone representative is still in office after 46 years. His lengthy service makes him a person newer members can go to for advice.
“Number one don’t forget why you got elected and make sure you understand that this job isn’t for all,” said Young.
There are 101 freshmen in the House of Representatives. Young prides himself on bipartisanship. He says comradery is nearly gone on Capitol Hill and it is something he would like to see reinvigorated.
“Nobody knows anybody anymore. That’s the sad part. They used to have wives clubs and the kids went to school together and there was an idea well, ‘Ok you and I may disagree on the policy and your philosophy, but we know one another well enough...is there a middle ground?’” said Young.
Some do not find Young to be the right figure for imparting wisdom. A political expert tells us it is a new age in Congress, and Young is not a good fit.
“One would hope that they wouldn’t take Congressman Young as their shining example of how to operate themselves,” said Steve Billet from George Washington University.
Billet calls Young a confrontational and rugged individualist, and says the days are over when those traits were effective.
“When it comes to issues of sort of misspeaking, he’s a champion in this area and he can provide a lot of negative examples,” said Billet.
Young is the 45th Dean of the House and the first Republican to hold the post since 1933.