The man who spent more time in the U.S. House of Representatives than anyone in American history, John David Dingell Jr. succumbed to prostate cancer last night in hospice. He was 92 years old.
“Our state has lost a great leader who gave his all to public service. He leaves a lasting legacy of what government can achieve when led with vision and integrity: laws that serve the common good and the common people. We will miss his humor and relentless spirit. The thoughts of the whole Michigan United family are with the Dingells in this trying time,” Michigan United Executive Director Ryan Bates said.
“Big John” represented residents of Southeast Michigan in Congress with distinction for 59 years and anchored a political dynasty that is not likely to ever be exceeded. He followed in the footsteps of his father John Dingell Sr. who was a U.S. Representative for 22 years and was succeeded by his wife, Debbie Dingell who was elected to his seat when he eventually retired in 2015.
But more impressive than the duration of Dingell Jr.’s time in Congress is the length of his list of legislative accomplishments. He was a champion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights act of 1965. While his father helped to create the Social Security system, Dingell Jr. helped lead the charge for Medicare in 1965 and fought against the privatization of both programs throughout his career. At the beginning of every Congress, he introduced a bill providing for a national health insurance system and ultimately helped bring the Affordable Care Act to fruition, dramatically reducing the number of uninsured Americans. Dingell was instrumental in the passage of many of our nation’s most important environmental laws.