Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., currently holds the title of Dean of the House of Representatives, which means he is the longest continually serving member of Congress' lower chamber.

Rogers, 85, has represented the state's 5th Cogressional District, which includes eastern Kentucky, since 1981.

What You Need To Know

  • Rep. Hal Rogers R-Ky., currently holds the title of Dean of the House of Representatives, which means he is the longest continually serving member of Congress' lower chamber

  • The dean of the title is mostly symbolic, but it comes with a couple of official duties including, swearing in the Speaker of the House after they are elected

  • Rogers received a spot on the GOP Steering Committee this term, which means he was able to vote on committee assignments for other Republican members

In an interview with Spectrum News, Rogers explained what he thinks has motivated voters to keep him in this position for over 40 years.

“I think being honest with people and being humble about the job you’re doing, and taking care of people’s needs,” Rogers said.

Dean of the house is a mostly symbolic position given to the most senior member in that chamber, but political analysts point out that the title likely still carries some weight on Capitol Hill.

“Being the most senior member certainly conveys some informal influence,” explained Matthew Green with the pollical science department at Catholic University, “It’s someone who understands the House very, very well and probably has good relationships with members on both sides of the aisle.”

Although it’s primarily symbolic, there are a few assigned duties that come along with the dean of the house title including getting a spot on GOP Steering Committee. The steering panel gets to vote on which committees Republican members will serve on for the term.

“That’s always a controversial operation,” Rogers explained. “People are politicking for a seat.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., has outsize influence on the steering committee with four votes compared to just one for most other members, including Rogers.

“That Republican House steering committee has about 30 members from the speaker on down,” Rogers said. “I was privileged to be a part of it.”

Many have criticized McCarthy’s decisions on committee assignments for the 118th Congress, saying he made too many concessions to ultra-conservative members in order to get their support in the race for leader, but Rogers said “the speaker handled it well.”

“I’ve been on the steering committee back in the early days when Reagan was president and I’ve not seen it better handled,” Rogers said. “This was really well done. The speaker came out, I think, flying high.”

One of Rogers’ other official duties as dean is swearing the new Speaker of the House. This year, that ceremony was delayed several days because it took 15 rounds of voting before Republicans finally settled on McCarthy.

“That was a thrill. It was a crazy night,” Rogers said. “We didn’t know how it was going to end or when it would end.”

During his acceptance speech, McCarthy referred to Rogers as one of his “first mentors.”

While dean of the house is the title that is getting Rogers the most attention on Capitol Hill this term, he also serves as a member of the House Committee on Appropriations. Rogers served as chair of appropriations from 2011 to 2016.