Dingell is an icon in "progressive" Democratic politics, and for that matter, in Democratic politics period. The 87-year old Dingell, is the dean of the House of Representatives was first elected in 1955, and is the longest-serving member at 58 years last year. He was first elected at the age of 29.
The 87-year-old Dingell told the Detroit News in a report published Monday, "I’m not going to be carried out feet first. I don’t want people to say I stayed too long."
At the beginning of every Congress, Dingell had introduced a bill providing for national health insurance in Congress, the same bill that his father proposed while he was in Congress.
President Barack Obama will miss Dingell and yesterday he issued a statement praising him for his many years of services to the nation:
Serving nearly six decades in the House of Representatives, John Dingell has earned the distinction of being both the longest-serving Member of Congress in U.S. history and one of the most influential legislators of all time.
After serving his country in the Army during World War II, John was first elected to Congress in 1955 – representing the people of southeastern Michigan in a seat previously held by his father. In Washington, John risked his seat to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, fought to pass Medicare in 1965, and penned the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act with millions of Americans healthy and preserved natural beauty for future generations.
But of all John’s accomplishments, perhaps the most remarkable has been his tireless fight to guarantee quality, affordable health care for every American. Decades after his father first introduced a bill for comprehensive health reform, John continued to introduce health care legislation at the beginning of every session.
And as an original author of the Affordable Care Act, he helped give millions of families the peace of mind of knowing they won’t lose everything if they get sick. Today, the people of Michigan – and the American people – are better off because of John Dingell’s service to this country, and Michelle and I wish him, his wife Debbie, and their family the very best.
Dingell voted for Medicare in 1965 during the Johnson Administration, his push for a "Patient’s Bill of Rights" in the late the 1990's and the early 2000's, voted for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and in 2010, he not only helped to draft the Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), he helped to shepherd the historic legislation through Congress.
Former Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, told POLITICO that he served with Dingell for many years on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said working on legislation with Dingell was "like playing baseball with Babe Ruth."
Rep. Frank Pallone (D—N.J.) also said, "Congressman Dingell is a living legend and one of the most prominent and accomplished lawmakers in American history and it has been a great honor to serve beside him. From Medicare, to the Affordable Care Act, to the Clean Air Act, Congressman Dingell’s work endures and continues to improve people’s lives every day."
On ther other side of the aisle, fellow Michigan Rep. Fred Upton (R—MI), said that "he enjoyed working with Dingell on a number of issues “from spearheading the recovery of the auto industry, to ensuring our drug safety laws are complete, to updating our pipeline safety standards. By any standard, he will not only be viewed as the 'Dean of the House,' but also one with an incredible record of getting the job done. The term 'legendary' will always be associated with the name 'John Dingell.'
Dingell is one of only two remaining House members who served in World War II. The other – Texas Rep. Ralph Hall – is trying to survive a stiff GOP primary challenge.
Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, firstname.lastname@example.org.