- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2019

The longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. House died Thursday evening in hospice care. 

Former Rep. John Dingell Jr., Michigan Democrat, was 92.

Mr. Dingell’s death, surrounded by family at his home in Dearborn, was first confirmed to the Detroit News by his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell. That he was in hospice care with terminal prostate cancer was reported Wednesday.

Mrs. Dingell’s office issued a statement Thursday evening that “it is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of John David Dingell Jr. … he will be remembered for his decades of public service to the people of Southeast Michigan, his razor sharp wit, and a lifetime of dedication to improving the lives of all who walk this earth.”

In his last public message Wednesday evening, Mr. Dingell said his wife didn’t want him on social media at such a time but “after long negotiations we’ve worked out a deal where she’ll keep up with Twitter for me as I dictate the messages.”

“I want to thank you all for your incredibly kind words and prayers. You’re not done with me just yet,” he wrote.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, called him “a giant legislator on behalf of the people and a “tireless advocate” on clean air, clean water, consumer protections and financial regulations.

Mrs. Dingell took over her husband’s seat in 2014 when, at the age of 88, he retired rather than seek a 30th full term. The seat had been held by Mr. Dingell’s father John Sr., from the 1932 Democratic sweep led by President Franklin D. Roosevelt until his death in 1955, at which point the son won a special election and held the seat for almost 60 years.

The younger Mr. Dingell, who reached the rank of second lieutenant in the Army during World War II and was one of the last two veterans of that war serving in the Congress, was known for his advocacy for organized labor, for a national health-insurance system.

Mr. Dingell was also one of the last of a certain sort of lawmaker that was once the base of the Democratic Party — a moderate representing a largely Catholic, working-class district. He would regularly get an A-rating from the National Rifle Association, opposed mandatory busing for racial integration, and had a moderate position on abortion and the public funding thereof.

But he also played a key role in the passage of Medicare under President Lyndon B. Johnson — “It’s hard to believe that there was once no Social Security or Medicare,” he said. He also helped pass the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act

He jealously guarded Congressional power, regularly conducting vigorous oversight of the executive branch, especially on matters related to energy and the environment.

Despite his close ties with the automotive industry — Ford Motor Co. was headquartered in his district — his voting records were regularly graded highly by groups such as the League of Conservation Voters.

Nevertheless, in 2009, he lost his chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee to a different sort of Democrat — Rep. Henry Waxman of California — over his resistance to environmental regulations that would hurt the auto industry. 

Mr. Dingell has four children from his first marriage to Helen Henebry.

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