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Longest-Serving Congressman John Dingell Dies At 92

Longest-Serving Congressman John Dingell Dies At 92

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell died Thursday after a yearlong battle with prostate cancer. He was 92.

The Life

Dingell began his public service as a page for the U.S. House of Representatives and a World War II army lieutenant in the Pacific. After stints as a forest ranger, Wayne County prosecuting attorney and private lawyer, he transitioned to Capitol Hill.

Michigan’s 15th district elected Dingell in 1955 to fill his late father’s vacated seat. Throughout his service, he bounced between the 15th, 16th and 12th districts, all the while representing the interests of his region’s auto industry.

Dingell shaped environmental, telecom and auto laws on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he served as chairman or the ranking Democrat from 1981 to 2008. He advocated for environmental protections and national health insurance, and his legacy includes the 1990 Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Patients Bill of Rights.

The moderate Democrat drew criticism, though, for being too lenient with auto emissions standards, a stance that protected his auto-exposed district. He also broke from his party on the issue of gun rights, which he championed after serving as a board member for the National Rifle Association.

For his last 20 years, he served a record-setting tenure as dean of the House of Representatives. 

Dingell also became a Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) sensation later in life, posting alternately funny and thoughtful tweets that touched on everything from the Trump administration to Detroit sports. His final tweet was posted one day before his death. 

By the time he retired in 2015, Dingell had become disillusioned with the legislative body, calling it a “mean-spirited place ... devoid of bipartisanship.”

His wife, Debbie Dingell, ran successfully for her husband's congressional seat upon his retirement. 

Whatever partisan politics he witnessed didn’t resonate outside the chamber. A number of Republican politicians tweeted their well wishes for Dingell after news broke of his hospice care.

"I don’t care what your politics are. This is sad, sad news,” Republican and former Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley wrote.

The Legacy

Dingell’s 59 years — 29 full terms — in office earned him the title of the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history. 

At the time of his retirement, Dingell was also Congress’ last World War II veteran, the last member to have served during the 1950s and the last to have served during the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations.

Dingell earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.

Related Links: 

The Life And Legacy Of Jack Bogle, Legendary Investor And Founder Of Vanguard Group

Former US President George HW Bush Dies At 94

Photo by Emily Clack/LBJ Library. 

Posted-In: John Dingell obituariesNews Politics General Best of Benzinga


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