Dingell, longest-serving congressman, to retire

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. is celebrated by friends and colleagues on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 7, 2013, as he becomes the longest-serving member of Congress in history with his 20,997th day as a representative. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. is celebrated by friends and colleagues on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 7, 2013, as he becomes the longest-serving member of Congress in history with his 20,997th day as a representative. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history and a champion of Detroit’s auto industry, has announced his retirement.

The 87-year-old Michigan Democrat made the announcement Monday before a speech to a Detroit-area Chamber of Commerce.

Dingell has served in the U.S. House since winning his late father’s seat in 1955. He became the longest-serving member of Congress ever in June when he broke the record held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Dingell has played a role in many major pieces of legislation, including President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and Medicare. As a congressional page, he watched President Franklin Roosevelt ask Congress to declare war on Japan.

There is speculation that Dingell’s wife, Debbie Dingell, may run to replace him.

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Reaction to Dingell’s retirement:

“John Dingell has earned the distinction of being both the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history and one of the most influential legislators of all time.  … And as an original author of the Affordable Care Act, he helped give millions of families the peace of mind of knowing they won’t lose everything if they get sick. Today, the people of Michigan — and the American people — are better off because of John Dingell’s service to this country.” — President Barack Obama

“John Dingell is a supreme fighter for working men and women who has built a record of accomplishment second to none. I have known no better person in government during my 35 years in Congress. His rare combination of legislative skill, steely determination, hard work and generosity of spirit have helped him play a vital role in almost every major congressional initiative over the last half century, including the civil rights revolution, historic protections for the environment, the establishment of Medicare and passage of landmark health insurance reforms. Everyone who cares about Michigan has benefited from his tireless advocacy for our state.” — U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who also is retiring this year

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“Nobody has done more for Michigan than John Dingell.  For nearly 60 years, the Dean of the House has dedicated his life to public service and has done so with honor and distinction. He has been a critical voice on important issues like civil rights, protecting the environment, supporting our auto industry, and strengthening health care in America. John has been a mentor and a personal friend, and it has been an honor to work with him to represent Michigan families.” — U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

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“Rep. Dingell has shown the unique ability to put politics aside and work across party lines to help improve the quality of life for those he represents. Throughout his distinguished career, he has stood up for working families and worked to strengthen the economy. He has been a strong voice for civil rights, helped guarantee equal access and diversity in the Michigan school system, has consistently fought for our veterans, and led conservation efforts and worked to protect the environment. … We should all be proud and inspired by John Dingell’s lifetime of service to our state.” — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

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“It has been a real pleasure working closely with `Big John’ through the years on a number of issues facing our country. From spearheading the recovery of the auto industry, to ensuring our drug safety laws are complete, to updating our pipeline safety standards, he and I have had a strong bipartisan partnership. And, on the occasion we may disagree, we’ve never been disagreeable. The term `legendary’ will always be associated with the name `John Dingell.’ Following in his father’s footsteps, John always put his beloved Michigan constituents first throughout his nearly six decades of public service.” — U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.

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“John Dingell’s service to the people of Michigan will endure for generations, long after he leaves the House of Representatives. The Chairman’s work can be seen in Michigan’s clean air and water, in the auto factories that employ thousands of Michigan workers, and through the quality health care that his work made available to our kids, families, and seniors.” — Mark Schauer, Democratic gubernatorial candidate who represented south-central Michigan in Congress in 2009-10

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“Congressman John Dingell is the living embodiment of a lifetime public servant. … Yet, among his countless achievements, none hold greater significance than his contributions to the health of the American people. Each congressional term from 1955 on, he introduced legislation to secure affordable health care for all Americans. To work alongside John Dingell is to be inspired by his strength, by the history of our institution, by the seriousness of our work, by not only the length of his service, but the quality of his leadership.” — U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader

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“One of the greatest honors of my life has been to serve in Congress with John Dingell. Through my first term in Congress, I couldn’t have asked for a better friend, role model and mentor. … Simply put, his perseverance, experience and resolve are unmatched.” — U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

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“As a chairman he shepherded landmark legislation to make our air and water cleaner and provided stronger consumer protections. As a congressman, John Dingell always fought for Michigan first. Whether it was fighting to save our auto industry or safeguarding our Great Lakes, he always delivered for our economy, our middle class families and for our way of life. And though John Dingell may be leaving Congress at the end of this year he and his accomplishments will never be forgotten.” — U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich.

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“For many years, Congressman Dingell has worked tirelessly on our behalf — fighting to protect American automakers and workers, leading the fight for historic environmental projections, and representing hardworking people from Michigan and from around the country. He has earned the respect of his peers and of Michigan families, and he makes Michigan proud.” — Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson.

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“Rep. John Dingell is a great statesman and a true leader for working people. For almost six decades, Dingell has been a fierce champion for Michigan families and a firm advocate for American values. His legacy includes increased equality and opportunity for all citizens. Thank you Congressman Dingell, for standing up for workers as you helped to shape our state and our nation.” — Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift.

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