In early 1949 Connecticut Representative Chase Going Woodhouse received a curious invitation at her Washington office. The Secretary of Defense had invited Members of Congress to spend the night on the aircraft carrier USS Midway
to observe the navy’s training exercises as the legislators considered the future of military aviation. The problem was that Woodhouse was one of 10 women serving in the 81st Congress (1949–1951) and navy regulations prohibited women from spending the night on a warship.
For several weeks in early 1798 legislative business in the U.S. House of Representatives slowed to a crawl as the relatively young chamber grappled with a quandary both uncharted and unpleasant: whether and how to discipline its Members for unacceptable behavior.
To date, 259 Members have served 30 years or more in the U.S. Congress, constituting just two percent of the total historic membership. Yet in an institution where long service often yields greater power, many of these Members became some of the House’s most famous and influential people.