John D. Dingell Jr., a Democratic lawmaker from Michigan and the longest-serving member of Congress, died Thursday, his wife said. He was 92.
Dingell was succeeded in Congress by his wife, Debbie Dingell, after he announced in February 2014 that he would not seek a 30th full term. She said in a statement that Dingell died peacefully at his home in Dearborn, Mich.
His peers in Michigan and beyond remembered Dingell following the announcement of his death. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) called Dingell her “true friend,” writing in a statement that the congressman was “not merely a witness to history. He was a maker of it.”
“He understood the connection our people have to manufacturing, to agriculture, and to the land and the Great Lakes that support our Michigan way of life,” Stabenow wrote. "His wife, Debbie, who has been his closest confidant for more than 40 years, is working hard to carry on his legacy. I know that all of us in Michigan are sending her and their family and many friends our love and support at this time.”
President Obama reflected on Dingell’s role in landmark legislation such as Medicare, the Civil Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act. Dingell was especially passionate about ensuring access to health care, Obama wrote in a tribute shared on Twitter.
“He had a long tradition of introducing legislation on the first day of each new Congress to guarantee health care for every single American,” Obama wrote. “Because of him, we’ve come closer to that vision than ever before. And when we finally achieve it — and we will — we’ll all owe him our gratitude.”
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) recalled how Dingell championed the auto industry, adding that he was “always good for just the right tweet.” After his political career, the former congressman became known for his sharp wit online, writing Wednesday “you’re not done with me just yet.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Dingell a “beloved pillar of Congress and one of the greatest legislators in American history," citing his unwavering commitment to providing affordable, quality health care to all Americans.
“Every chapter of Chairman John Dingell’s life has been lived in service to our country, from his time as a House Page, to his service in the Army during World War II, to his almost six decades serving the people of Michigan in the U.S. Congress. John Dingell leaves a towering legacy of unshakable strength, boundless energy and transformative leadership,” she said in a statement.
Former vice president Joe Biden appreciated Dingell’s “great moral courage and vision” and said he would “miss him terribly.”
Former president Bill Clinton remembered Dingell’s involvement in passing key legislation, writing on Twitter that he and Hillary Clinton were “grateful to have worked with him and call him our friend.”
In a joint statement, Bill and Hillary Clinton said they “are grateful to have had the chance to work with him, to celebrate his becoming the longest-serving member of Congress in history, and most of all, to call him our friend.”
“He was a passionate advocate for health care for all and was instrumental in creating Medicare and passing the Afforable Care Act; a defender of the environment who helped pass the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act; and tireless champion of civil rights who would often cite his vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as the proudest and most important of his career,” the Clintons said in their statement. “His respect for his constituents, his colleagues of both parties, and the institutions of Congress are a valuable reminder today of what a noble calling public service can be.”
Patrick Butler, president and CEO of America’s Public Television Stations, said in a statement that Dingell “set a standard of public service that will be difficult to match.”
“He could be a fearsome adversary or a faithful champion, and public television was fortunate to have Chairman Dingell as a stalwart friend from the inception of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which he helped write,” Butler said. "“He was one of a kind, an enormously effective servant of the American people, a man of good humor and great integrity, and a giant in the history of the United States Congress. We are grateful that he lived so long and served so well.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) chimed in as well, recalling how Dingell “left an impression with everyone he met.”
Rep Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) described Dingell as a “titan of the House” and also gave a nod to his Twitter presence.