TRIBUTE TO JOHN D. DINGELL; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 156
(Senate - January 02, 2015)

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[Pages S6939-S6940]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                       TRIBUTE TO JOHN D. DINGELL

 Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise to pay tribute to an 
amazing colleague from my home State of Michigan, who has served in 
Congress for 59 years, the longest tenure of any Member in history: the 
dean of the House, John D. Dingell.
  In fact, his service to our Nation goes back even further: In 1938 he 
worked as a congressional page and on December 8, 1941, he was on the 
floor to hear President Roosevelt declare that the bombing of Pearl 
Harbor was a day that would live in infamy. In fact, a 15-year-old John 
Dingell helped record that speech.
  Three years later he served America in Europe in the fight against 
Nazi Germany. He would have been in the Battle of the Bulge if he 
hadn't been hospitalized with meningitis. Then he joined the fight in 
the Pacific, making preparations to be in the first wave of American 
soldiers for the ground invasion of Japan--except that the Japanese 
surrendered before it could happen.
  So John Dingell proved his patriotism long before he joined Congress 
in 1955, following the death of his beloved father, who preceded him as 
Representative for Michigan's 15th Congressional District.
  It is hard to imagine, but Congressman Dingell was a Member of 
Congress before Medicare and Medicaid existed. In fact, he helped vote 
those programs into law. When he joined Congress, the Interstate 
Highway System did not exist. Alaska and Hawaii were not yet States.
  Congressman Dingell is not merely a witness to history. He is a maker 
of it. His original family name, translated into Polish, meant 
``blacksmith,'' and this is a man who hammered out our Nation's laws, 
forging a stronger Union that could weather the challenges of the 
future.
  I would like to list all of Congressman Dingell's accomplishments, 
but I would be accused of staging a filibuster. For the sake of 
brevity, I will list only the most exceptional moments in Congressman 
Dingell's legendary career.
  Perhaps his most courageous vote occurred in 1964, in favor of the 
Civil Rights Act. Advisers told him that vote would destroy his chances 
at reelection, but he had more faith in his constituents--and he 
refused to compromise the principles of social justice.
  Health care was a great passion--one he inherited from his father. 
John Dingell, Sr., introduced a bill for universal health care in 1943, 
and though it failed, he continued to fight for it until the end of his 
life, and John Dingell, Jr., adopted that cause from his first day as 
his father's successor, proposing a bill to reform the health care 
system in every Congress since 1955. He has always believed that every 
American should have access to health care. So I know that voting for 
the Affordable Care Act was one of Congressman Dingell's proudest 
moments in Congress.
  As a boy he lived through America's Great Depression, and as a 
Congressman he helped to overcome America's great recession.
  He witnessed the rise of the automobile industry and saw how those 
unionized workers powered the rise of

[[Page S6940]]

America's middle class. Then we fought together to make sure that 
American autos and American workers could compete with foreign 
competition on an even playing field. Congressman Dingell recognized 
that this was the key to a new golden age of American cars and trucks. 
We are seeing that today.
  While scientific consensus was still forming about threats pollution 
posed to our air and animals, John Dingell wrote the Endangered Species 
Act in 1973 and the major expansion of the Clean Air Act in 1990. In 
2001, he created the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge--the 
very first of its kind in North America--and in the years since he has 
worked to expand refuge protection to more acres.
  He loves Michigan dearly. He understands the connection our people 
have to manufacturing, to agriculture and to the land and Great Lakes 
that power our tourism industry and our Michigan way of life.
  Even during the years he spent chairing the House Committee on Energy 
and Commerce, when Congressman Dingell was one of the most powerful 
Members of Congress, you could still find him waving to the crowd from 
the open top of a Ford Mustang convertible at Dearborn's Memorial Day 
Parade or at a booth at the Monroe County Fair, always with that same 
big smile. As Tip O'Neill once said, ``All politics is local,'' and 
local people are what John Dingell loves about politics.
  The people of his district never doubted his dedication. That is why 
they would still put ``Dingell for Congress'' signs on their lawn, long 
after his district boundaries had changed. If a piece of Southeast 
Michigan was ``Dingell Country'' once, then it was Dingell Country 
forever.
  And now he feels great pride--and his constituents feel great 
comfort--knowing that the district will remain in his family's hands. 
His beloved wife Deborah, who has been his closest confidant and 
understands him more intimately than anyone, will carry on his legacy 
long into the future. So if you go back to Congressman John Dingell, 
Sr., it means that Southeast Michigan has been under the Dingell name 
for 81 years--and counting.
  While Congressman Dingell will no longer be in Congress, we can still 
follow him on Twitter.
  Even at age 88, he is constantly evolving, charging boldly into the 
future, driven by a very simple principle: We are put on this earth to 
help people.
  John D. Dingell, Jr., has helped many people and yet he will insist 
that he has received much more than he has been given. He claims to be 
the ``luckiest man in shoe leather,'' and we are lucky that he has 
served Michigan and our Nation, so long and so faithfully.

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