Former Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell was remembered as a giant by colleagues in Washington and his home state of Michigan.
Dingell, who died Thursday, was the longest-serving member of of Congress, having served a record 59 years. His name is linked to some of the most iconic pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress.
Here’s what people had to say:
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer:
“Today the great State of Michigan said farewell to one of our greatest leaders. John Dingell will forever be remembered as ‘The Dean’ of Congress not simply for the length of his service, but for his unparalleled record of legislative accomplishments.
“The Congressman’s grit, humility and humor taught us all that we can disagree without being disagreeable, while still finding common ground and working together to get things done.
“The people of Michigan owe John Dingell so much, from his brave service in World War II, to his leadership as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and his crucial role in passing some of the most monumental laws of the past century, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act. We are a stronger, safer, healthier nation because of Congressman Dingell’s 59 years of service, and his work will continue to improve the lives of Michiganders for generations to come.
“I extend my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and the entire Dingell family for their loss. In this divisive time, may we all draw wisdom and inspiration from the truly remarkable life of Congressman John Dingell, and may we all continue to learn from his example of selfless public service as we work to build a better future for our state.”
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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan:
“I am deeply saddened at the death of John Dingell. He will he remembered as of the greatest legislators in American history who never forgot about the people he served and the city of Detroit.
“When our workers or automakers needed help, John always answered their call. No one fought harder for working people in Congress than John did.
“When the Rouge and Detroit Rivers festered with pollution, John led the effort in Congress to clean them up.
“Perhaps most importantly, when his father died, John carried on his legacy of fighting for universal healthcare coverage. He presided over the House when Medicare passed in 1965, and he was there when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. More than 680,000 Michiganders have healthcare today thanks to John never giving up on his father’s dream.
“While it’s hard to imagine a world without John Dingell, his legacy of working to improve people’s lives will last forever.
“John was a great personal friend to me for more than 30 years. On behalf of the entire city of Detroit, our hearts and prayers go out to Debbie and the rest of the Dingell family during this difficult time.”
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
“Today, we have lost a beloved pillar of the Congress and one of the greatest legislators in American history. 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.
“Chairman Dingell had a hand in crafting many major legislative accomplishments over the past half-century. Yet, among the vast array of historic legislative achievements, few hold greater meaning than his tireless commitment to the health of the American people. During every Congress since 1955, Chairman Dingell introduced legislation to secure affordable, quality health care for all Americans. Because of his father’s legacy and his own leadership, in 1965, he gaveled Medicare into law. In 2010, it was my privilege to hold that same gavel as we passed the Affordable Care Act.
“Chairman Dingell was our distinguished Dean and Chairman, our legendary colleague and a beloved friend. His memory will stand as an inspiration to all who worked with him or had the pleasure of knowing him. His leadership will endure in the lives of the millions of American families he touched. We hope it is a comfort to Chairman Dingell’s beloved wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and their entire family that so many mourn their loss and pray for them at this sad time.”
Former Michigan Democratic Party chairman Brandon Dillon:
“A giant among men. Such a loss for our country. There will never be another man like John Dingell.”
Former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley:
“John Dingell was a national treasure. His memory and his legacy will be long remembered and celebrated.”
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.:
“John Dingell’s colleagues — and I was proud to be one of them — were always educated, inspired, and in fact awed by him.”
“With John you always knew where you stood. If you disagreed you better have a damn good reason why. Simply reverting to rhetoric or the party line would not fly because he knew the issues ‘inside and out’ and always did his homework.
“John would outthink, outwork, and outfox nearly everyone.
“John was enormous in stature, integrity, and accomplishments. When he put his hand on your shoulder and spoke, you listened. Representing the great state of Michigan was truly a labor of love and John Dingell fiercely fought to support and rescue our auto industry in the toughest of times.
“There is a reason why a Dingell has represented Southeast Michigan for some 86 years. Their constituents know they always put country over everything else. They have all been chiseled from the same block of gold.
“My wife Amey and I want to express our deep condolences to his family. Especially his wife, and our good friend, Debbie during this difficult time.”
Speaker of the state House of Representatives Lee Chatfield, R-Levering:
“The state of Michigan and United States of America lost a true public servant today with the passing of Congressman John Dingell. His love for his country and fellow man was evident, and I pray his legacy lives on. May God bless the entire Dingell family during this time.”
Former state House Minority Leader Sam Singh, D-East Lansing:
“Rest In Peace, congressman.”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.:
“Congressman John Dingell — the Dean of the House and my dear friend — was not merely a witness to history. He was a maker of it. His original family name, translated into Polish, meant ‘blacksmith.’ Nothing could be more fitting for a man who hammered out our nation’s laws, forging a stronger union that could weather the challenges of the future.
“John Dingell loved Michigan. 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.
“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.”
State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint:
“Michigan lost a hero today. Congressman Dingell taught us to ‘do what’s right and never be afraid,’ a lesson he embodied in word and deed. From enlisting in the U.S. Army to defend our nation during World War II, to fighting in the halls of Congress for a better America by championing equal rights, clean air and water, and quality health care for every American, John Dingell’s story is one of selfless and tireless service to country.
“The Michigan Senate Democrats offer their support and prayers to Congresswoman Dingell and the entire Dingell family, and we thank them for sharing John with us for 92 years.”
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and 2020 presidential candidate:
“What a life. As the longest-serving member of Congress, John Dingell helped increase access to health care, defended the auto industry, and was always good for just the right tweet. Sending @RepDebDingell and the rest of her family all my love.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.:
“John Dingell will forever be recognized as one of the most impactful and consequential public leaders of our time. He lived every day of his life with clear moral purpose, incredible humor, a strong work ethic and an unwavering devotion to both Michigan and his family.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.:
“John Dingell was a fierce advocate for Michigan and a titan of the House who worked with a servant’s heart. I will remember John as someone who always fought for the constitutional standing of the House. My heart and prayers go out to Debbie and the entire Dingell family.”
Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO:
“I have known John and Debbie for many years and consider them dear friends. John, the Dean, was a true champion of the people during his tenure in Congress. From healthcare reform, to environmental protection, to civil rights, to protecting the rights of working families, there was not a major piece of progressive legislation that passed without John having some influence on it. There is no doubt that our country is better off because of the work he did.
“On behalf of myself and the Michigan AFL-CIO, I express our deepest condolences to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and the rest of their family. We will always be grateful for the time we spent with John and for his advocacy on behalf of working people.”
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party:
I am fortunate to have formed a lifelong friendship with Debbie Dingell, and I send my sincerest condolences to her and their family during this time. History will always remember John for his commitment and service to Michigan and his love for Debbie.
Chairman and CEO of General Motors Mary Barra:
Keeping @RepDebDingell and her family in our thoughts and prayers today as we pay tribute to John Dingell – a man of honor and determination. His dedication to the auto industry and Michigan are undisputed and we will miss his unifying voice and wry sense of humor.
Kresge Foundation CEO and President Rip Rapson:
“The Kresge Foundation mourns – alongside all Michiganders – the loss of the inimitable Honorable John Dingell, the longest-serving Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. We extend our deepest sympathies to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and the entire Dingell family.”
UAW President Gary Jones:
“We celebrate the life of a true friend to UAW members tonight. John Dingell’s voice filled the halls of Congress with a message of hope for working families in a career spanning nearly 60 years. He was a legend in the halls of Congress. But in Michigan he was that rare accessible hero that would fight for our paychecks, our health care, our labor rights and our civil and human rights. Let the words of history honor his integrity, wit and the impact he still has on our daily lives. And we give thanks to Debbie and his children for sharing such a life well lived in compassionate service to all of us. John Dingell will be missed by all working families.”