The Medicare champion retires from the House.
Representative John Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, has served longer than any other member of the House. However, the lawmaker recently revealed plans to retire, putting an end to his nearly sixty-year career. Throughout the decades, his career was one marked by celebration and controversies as he focused largely on defending environmental protection laws as well as the auto industry.
Although Dingell, who is 87 years old, has served in Congress for 58 years, his roots in the House go back much further, as his father held the position for 22 years before Dingell.
He is renowned for his work in helping to protect the Michigan auto industry, which made him a bit of an outsider among other Democrats, who largely worked to toughen up antipollution standards. However, he aided liberal policies such as Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, the Clean Air Act of 1990, and the 1964 Voting Rights Act. In light of his work on these laws, President Obama named Dingell as “one of the most influential legislators of all time.”
Dingell’s work in Congress ultimately helped to remove over 8.6 tons of carbon dioxide from the air, along with the requirement that a percentage of the country’s electricity be generated by renewable resources.
Rep. Sander Levin, Democrat of Michigan, remarked, “He worked hard to piece together strengthening the industrial base, including automotive, and caring for the environment.” Levin continued, “He had the ability to work through the difficult meshing of both.”
Although advanced age is one contributing factor to his retirement, Dingell also points to a lack of bipartisan relationships in Congress. In a recent interview with the New York Times, he says, “I find serving in the House to be obnoxious.”
Dingell is using his retirement to help send a message to Congress that cooperation is essential. In the same New York Times article he explains, “Congress means coming together, the great coming together of the American people.” He notes that, “Compromise is an honorable word.”