John Dingell, Michigan Democrats — February 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

Dean of the House Congressman John Dingell to retire – A tribute with PHOTOS


Lawmaker, environmentalist, single-payer healthcare advocate, statesman, friend

Eclectablog (Chris Savage) and Dean of the House Congressman John Dingell

Last summer John Dingell became the longest serving member of Congress, breaking a record formerly held by Senator Robert Byrd. During his 58 years in Congress, John Dingell has been a champion of nearly every single progressive cause you could name. Every session he has introduced legislation to create a single-payer healthcare system in the United States of America, taking over a tradition started by his father who preceded him in Congress.

John Dingell sworn into office for the first time in 1955 (public domain photo)

Today, at a Legislative Forum being held by the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber, John Dingell will announce his retirement.

John Dingell’s time in office crosses six decades. His fingerprints can be found on some of the most transformative legislation in our country’s history:

  • The Clean Air Act
  • The Civil Rights Act
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • The Endangered Species Act
  • The National Environmental Policy Act
  • The Pollution Prevention Act
  • The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
  • The Energy Policy and Conservation Acts of 1975 & 1976
  • The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)

John Dingell’s Congressional office in Washington, D.C.

The desk of a busy lawmaker in Washington, D.C.

With regard to the Affordable Care Act, at an historic public forum in Inkster before its passage, an event covered in great detail here at Eclectablog, the Congressman was asked “DID YOU EVEN READ THE BILL???” His response? “Read it? I WROTE it!”

John Dingell confronted by angry tea partiers at Obamacare forum in Romulus

Congressmen John Dingell and Mark Schauer receive thank you cards from University of Michigan College Dems after passage of the Affordable Care Act

As an incumbent in a safe seat, Congressman Dingell used his gravitas to help other up and coming Democrats to join him in Congress. His support of candidates like Mark Schauer during his Congressional campaigns was well known.

Today, Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for governor, had this to say about Congressman Dingell’s retirement:

John Dingell’s service to the people of Michigan will endure for generations, long after he leaves the House of Representatives. The Chairman’s work can be seen in Michigan’s clean air and water, in the auto factories that employ thousands of Michigan workers, and through the quality health care that his work made available to our kids, families, and seniors.

Serving alongside John Dingell during such a critical period in our nation’s history was truly an honor. I consider him a mentor and a friend. While I am sad to see him leaving the job he has served in with such distinction for so many years, I know John and Debbie Dingell will continue to serve the people of Michigan for many more years to come. And I look forward to working with them to build a better future for our great state.

John Dingell at a campaign fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer

One topic Congressman Dingell spoke about repeatedly over the past several years was the amount partisan division and rancor in Congress. John Dingell was never afraid to compromise with his political opponents if the compromise meant that Americans would be helped and he decried the recent trend, particularly from tea party Republicans, of zero compromise and absolute ideological purity.

John Dingell’s retirement opens up the door for other up-and-coming Democrats in the 12th District and many observers predict a spirited primary between his wife Debbie Dingell and current state Senator Rebekah Warren.

Debbie’s husband

Anne and I would both like to extend our deepest gratitude to Congressman Dingell for his decades of service and for his guidance and friendship over the past years. Godspeed, Congressman. You’ve changed the world and made it a better place.

Below are some of Anne’s favorite photos of Congressman Dingell.

Photographer Anne C. Savage with Congressman Dingell (photo by Eclectablog)

With Michigan Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson

At the Yack Dinner in 2013

With President Bill Clinton

l-r: Mark Schauer, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, Governor Howard Dean, Congressman Gary Peters, Dean of the House John Dingell

With “The Lovely Deborah”, Debbie Dingell

“High five!”

Inside Congressman John Dingell’s Congressional office

The gavel used by John Dingell during his time as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

With Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Lewis and former staffers for Congressman Mark Schauer, Fran Brennan and Renell Weathers

[All photos by Anne C. Savage, except as noted]