ENG: John David Dingell, Jr. (born July 8, 1926) is an American politician who has served in the United States House of Representatives since 1955. Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, is the Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Dean of the Michigan congressional delegation. He is also the longest-currently-serving member of Congress, the longest ever to serve exclusively in the House and the second longest-serving member of Congress ever. If he serves until June 8, 2013, he will become the longest-serving member of Congress in American history.
Dingell's district was first in western Detroit, but has successively moved further into that city's western suburbs. Since 2013, he has represented Michigan's 12th congressional district.
Early life, education, and early career
Dingell was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the son of Grace (née Bigler) and John D.
Dingell, Sr. (1894–1955), who represented Michigan's 15th district from 1933 to 1955. His father was of Polish descent and his mother had Swiss and Scots-Irish ancestry. His father's original surname had been Dzieglewicz. John D. Dingell, Sr. changed his name for his campaign for office with the slogan 'Ring (in) with Dingell.'
In Washington, D.C., John, Jr. attended Georgetown Preparatory School and then the House Page School when he served as a page for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1938 to 1943. He was on the floor of the House when President Roosevelt gave his famous speech after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
In 1944, at the age of 18, Dingell joined the United States Army. He rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant and received orders to take part in the first wave of a planned invasion of Japan in November 1945; the Congressman has said President Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb to end the war saved his life.
He then attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1949 and a J.D. in 1952. He was a lawyer in private practice, a research assistant to U.S. Circuit Court judge Theodore Levin, a Congressional employee, a forest ranger, and assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County until 1955.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections
In 1955, John, Sr. died and John, Jr. won a special election to succeed him. He won a full term in 1956 and has been reelected 29 times, including a run in 2006 with no major opponent. Between them, he and his father have represented the southeastern Michigan area for nearly 80 years.
His district was numbered as the 15th District from 1955 to 1965, when redistricting merged it into the Dearborn-based 16th District; in the primary that year, he defeated 16th District incumbent John Lesinski, Jr.
In 2002, redistricting merged Dingell's 16th District with the Washtenaw County and western Wayne County-based 13th District, represented by fellow Democrat Lynn Rivers, whom Dingell also bested in the Democratic primary.
The current 15th District () includes Wayne County suburbs generally southwest of Detroit, the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas in Washtenaw County, and all of Monroe County. For many years, Dingell represented much of western Detroit itself, though Detroit's declining population and the growth of its suburbs has pushed all of Detroit into the districts of fellow Democrats including John Conyers. Dingell has always won re-election by double-digit margins, although the increasing conservatism of the white suburbs of Detroit since the 1970s led to several serious Republican challenges in the 1990s. He has won his last two elections, however, with over 70 percent of the vote. With the retirement of Jamie L. Whitten, the death of William Natcher, and the defeat of Texas congressman Jack Brooks at the start of a new Congress in January 1995, he became the Dean of the United States House of Representatives even though fellow congressman Sidney Yates had served non-consecutive terms earlier than Dingell. He is one of three people to serve in the House for 50 years, the others being Whitten and Carl Vinson.
On February 20, 2010, Dingell announced that he would seek a 29th term in the November 2010 election, and won re-election.
Dingell is generally classified as a liberal Democrat, and throughout his career he has been a leading congressional supporter of organized labor, social welfare measures and traditional progressive policies. At the beginning of every Congress, Dingell introduces a bill providing for a national health insurance system, the same bill that his father proposed while he was in Congress. Dingell also strongly supported Bill Clinton's managed-care proposal early in his administration.
On some issues, though, he reflects the conservative values of his largely Catholic and working-class district. He supported the Vietnam War until 1971. Although he backed the Johnson Administration's civil rights bills, he opposed expanding school desegregation to Detroit suburbs via mandatory busing. He takes a fairly moderate position on abortion. He has worked to balance clean air legislation with the need to protect manufacturing jobs.
An avid sportsman and hunter, he strongly opposes gun control, and is a former board member of the National Rifle Association. For many years, Dingell has received an A+ rating from the NRA.
The political analyst Michael Barone wrote of Dingell in 2002:
“There is something grand about the range of Dingell's experience and about his adherence to his philosophy over a very long career. He is an old-fashioned social Democrat who knows that most voters don't agree with his goals of a single-payer national health insurance plan but presses forward toward that goal as far as he can." 'It's hard to believe that there was once no Social Security or Medicare', he says. 'The Dingell family helped change that. My father worked on Social Security and for national health insurance, and I sat in the chair and presided over the House as Medicare passed (in 1965). I went with Lyndon Johnson for the signing of Medicare at the Harry S. Truman Library, and I have successfully fought efforts to privatize Social Security and Medicare'. Whether you agree or disagree, the social democratic tradition is one of the great traditions in our history, and John Dingell has fought for it for a very long time.”
On March 23, 2010, Dingell was interviewed by WJR-AM Detroit radio host Paul W. Smith about the newly-signed federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
“SMITH: Are we ready to let 72,000 more people die in our country, if 18,000 died or whatever the number is, the figure that anyone comes up with, per year because of a lack of health insurance or health care, when this bill doesn't basically take effect until 2014?
DINGELL: We're not ready to be doing it. But let me remind you, this has been going on for years. We are bringing it to a halt. The harsh fact of the matter is, when you're going to pass legislation that will cover 300 million American people in different ways, it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.”
Responding to subsequent controversy over his use of the phrase "control the people", Rep. Dingell stated, "I was referring to the insurance companies who [sic] we must do a better job of overseeing."
On December 13, 2005, Dingell was honored at the White House with a Presidential lunch for his 50th anniversary in Congress.
On December 15, 2005, on the floor of the House, Dingell read a poem sharply critical of, among other things, Fox News, Bill O'Reilly and the so-called "War on Christmas".
Along with John Conyers, in April 2006, Dingell brought an action against George W. Bush and others alleging violations of the Constitution in the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The case (Conyers v. Bush) was ultimately dismissed for lack of standing.
After winning re-election in 2008 for his 28th consecutive term, Dingell surpassed Whitten's record for having the longest tenure in the House on February 11, 2009. In honor of the record, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm declared February 11, 2009, to be John Dingell Day.
He is married to Deborah Insley Dingell. His son Christopher D. Dingell served in the Michigan State Senate and is currently a Judge of the Michigan's Third Circuit Court.
February 8, 2013