Every two years around this time, the halls of Congress are crowded with boxes, as departing lawmakers pack up their offices in defeat or relief.
The departures this year have a decidedly Democratic tilt following the Republican rout in November, but the Capitol will also be losing some of its most memorable and colorful characters, from the longest-serving member in history to a conservative firebrand who used her brief time in the House to become a household name.
First elected in 1955, Dingell, 88, is the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. His presence in the Capitol dates back much further, however: As a House page in 1941, he stood in the chamber while President Franklin Roosevelt delivered his "Day in Infamy" speech responding to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. During his prime years in Congress, the Michigan Democrat was the aggressive chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, exerting influence over much of the U.S. economy and serving as a fierce protector of the auto industry. His opposition to climate-change regulations led Speaker Nancy Pelosi to engineer his ouster from the chairmanship after President Obama's election in 2008. Still, Dingell remained a forceful presence as "Dean of the House," and in his later years in Congress, he was known for his entertaining and highly-responsive Twitter feed. Dingell will spend his final weeks as a congressman in the hospital after fracturing his hip, but his name won't be going anywhere: The lawmaker's wife, Debbie Dingell, won her race to succeed him in the House.