John D. Dingell, Jr

For this Congressman's father, see John D. Dingell, Sr..
John Dingell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 12th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Sander Levin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 15th district
In office
December 13, 1955[1] – January 3, 1965[2]
Preceded by John D. Dingell, Sr.
Succeeded by William Ford
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 16th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by John Lesinski
Succeeded by District eliminated
Chairman Emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
In office
January 5, 2009 – January 5, 2011
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Joe Barton
Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
In office
January 5, 2007 – January 5, 2009
Preceded by Joe Barton
Succeeded by Henry Waxman
In office
January 5, 1981 – January 5, 1995
Preceded by Harley Orrin Staggers
Succeeded by Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.
Personal details
Born John David Dingell, Jr.
(1926-07-08) July 8, 1926 (age 87)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Helen Henebry (1952-1972; divorced)
Deborah Dingell (1981-present)
Children 4
Residence Dearborn, Michigan
Alma mater Georgetown University
Occupation Attorney
Website The Honorable John D. Dingell
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1944–1946
Rank Second Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II

John David Dingell, Jr. (born July 8, 1926) is an American politician who has been a member of the United States House of Representatives continuously since entering Congress on December 13, 1955. He is a member of the Democratic Party. On June 7, 2013 he reached 20,997 days of membership, surpassing Robert Byrd as the longest-serving member of Congress in history.[1] Dingell is a long-time member and former Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The longest-serving member of Congress, Dingell has been in office for 58 years, 193 days. Dingell is also the longest-currently-serving member of Congress.[3] Having remained in the House of Representatives for his entire Congressional career, he is also the longest ever to serve exclusively in the House, the longest-serving Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Dean of the Michigan congressional delegation. Dingell is one of two World War II veterans still serving in Congress; the other is Texas Congressman Ralph Hall.[4]

Dingell's district was first in western Detroit, but redistricting has successively moved him further into the 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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7][8] 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


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 runs in 1988 and 2006 with no Republican opponent. He has only received less than 62% of the vote on two occasions. In 1994 when the Republican Revolution swept the Republicans into the majority in the House of Representatives for the first time since 1954, Dingell received 59% of the vote. In 2010 when the Republicans re-took control of the House of Representatives, Dingell received 57% of the vote. Between them, he and his father have represented the southeastern Michigan area for 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 Carl Vinson.


Dingell is generally classified as a liberal member of the Democratic Party 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: Template:Cquote

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: Template:Cquote

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".[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] In honor of the record, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm declared February 11, 2009, to be John Dingell Day.

As of June 9, 2013, Dingell had served with 2,445 different U.S. Representatives in his career.[12]

Energy and Commerce chairman

During his first stint as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell was regarded by analysts as one of the four or five most powerful members of the House.

Dingell is well known for his approach to Congressional oversight of the executive branch.[13] He has subpoenaed numerous government officials to testify before the committee and grilled them for hours. Insisting that all who testify before his committee do so under oath, thus exposing them to perjury charges if they did not tell the truth, he and his committee have uncovered numerous instances of corruption and waste, such as the use of $600 toilet seats at the Pentagon. He also claims that the committee's work led to resignations of many Environmental Protection Agency officials, and uncovered information that led to legal proceedings that sent many Food and Drug Administration officials to jail.[14]

After serving as the committee's ranking Democratic member for 12 years, Dingell regained the chairmanship in 2007. According to Newsweek, he had wanted to investigate the George W. Bush Administration's handling of port security, the Medicare prescription drug program and Dick Cheney's energy task force.[14] Time magazine has stated that he had intended to oversee legislation that addresses global warming and climate change caused by carbon emissions from automobiles, energy companies and industry (citation: June 2007 issue, Time magazine).

Dingell lost the chairmanship for the 111th Congress to Congressman Henry Waxman of California in a Democratic caucus meeting on November 20, 2008. Waxman mounted a challenge against Dingell on grounds that Dingell was stalling certain environmental legislation, which would have tightened vehicle emissions standards—something that could be detrimental to the Big Three automobile manufacturers that constitute a major source of employment in Dingell's district. Dingell was given the title of Chairman Emeritus in a token of appreciation of his years of service on the committee.

Baltimore case

In the 1980s, Dingell led a series of Congressional hearings to pursue alleged scientific fraud by Thereza Imanishi-Kari and Nobel Prize-winner David Baltimore. The NIH's fraud unit, then called the Office of Scientific Integrity, charged Imanishi-Kari in 1991 of falsifying data and recommended that she be barred from receiving research grants for 10 years. Later, a newly-constituted HHS appeals panel of political appointees dismissed the charges against Imanishi-Kari. The findings and negative publicity surrounding them forced David Baltimore to resign as president of Rockefeller University and caused Imanishi-Kari to lose a tenure-track position. The story of the case is described in Daniel Kevles' 1998 book The Baltimore Case,[15] in a chapter of Horace Freeland Judson's 2004 book The Great Betrayal: Fraud In Science,[16] and in a 1993 study by Serge Lang, updated and reprinted in his book Challenges (New York: Springer-Verlag; 1997).

Robert Gallo and the controversy on who discovered the AIDS virus

From 1991 to 1995 Dingell's staff investigated claims that Robert Gallo had used samples supplied to him by Luc Montagnier to fraudulently claim to have discovered the AIDS virus. The report concluded that Gallo had engaged in fraud and that the NIH covered up his misappropriation of work by the French team at the Institut Pasteur. The report contended that:


The report was never formally published as a subcommittee report because of the 1995 change in control of the House from Democratic to Republican.[17] Other accusations against Gallo were dropped, and while Montagnier's group is considered to be the first to isolate the virus, Gallo's has been recognized as first to prove that this virus was the cause of AIDS.[18]


For his conduct regarding environmental issues during the 109th Congress the lobby group League of Conservation Voters has awarded Dingell its highest rating, 100%.[19] According to the LCV, Dingell voted "pro-environment" on twelve out of twelve issues the group deemed critical; they also praised him for introducing, along with representatives James Oberstar and Jim Leach, an amendment compelling the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rescind a directive issued in 2003 by the Bush Administration "requiring EPA staff to get permission from headquarters before protecting 'isolated' water bodies like vernal pools, prairie potholes, playa lakes and bogs," which provide "critical wildlife habitat, store flood water, and protect drinking water supplies."[19] Dingell is also a member of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus.

Dingell has opposed[20][21] raising mandatory automobile fuel efficiency standards, which he helped to write in the 1970s.[22] Instead, he has indicated that he intends to pursue a regulatory structure that takes greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption into account.[23] In a July 2007 interview with, he said “I have made it very plain that I intend to see to it that CAFE is increased” and pointed out that his plan would have Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards increased tantamount to those in the Senate bill recently passed. In November 2007, working with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Dingell helped draft an energy bill[24] that would mandate 40% increase in fuel efficiency standards.

In July 2007, Dingell indicated he planned to introduce a new tax on carbon usage in order to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. The policy has been criticized by some, as polling numbers show voters may be unwilling to pay for the changes. A Wall Street Journal editorial claimed that vehicle emissions standards that he supports will not yield any substantial greenhouse gas emissions savings.[25]

Private sector ties

Dingell has drawn criticism for his ties to the automotive industry.[26] The three largest contributors to his campaign for the 2006 election cycle are political action committees, employees, or other affiliates of General Motors, Ford Motor Company and DaimlerChrysler;[27] since 1989, intermediaries for these corporations have contributed more than $600,000 to his campaigns.[28] Dingell also holds an unknown quantity, once more than $US 1 million,[29] in assets through General Motors stock options and savings-stock purchase programs; his wife, Debbie Dingell, worked as a lobbyist for the corporation until they married. She then moved to an administrative position there.[30] As of June 2007, Mrs. Dingell was executive director of Global Community Relations and Government Relation at GM and vice chair of the General Motors Foundation.[31]

Committee assignments

Electoral history

Main article: Electoral history of John Dingell

Personal life

He is married to Deborah Dingell his second wife, who is 30 years his junior.[32] He has four children from his first marriage (1952-1972) to Helen Henebry. [33] His son Christopher D. Dingell served in the Michigan State Senate and is currently a Judge of the Michigan's Third Circuit Court.[34][35]


Further reading

  • Congressional Quarterly, Politics in America: 1992 (1991) pp 766-70
  • Barone, Michael. The Almanac of American Politics (biennial, 1975-2013), detailed summary of Dingell's political and Congressional roles and key votes in each Congress since 1974.

External links

  • Dean of the House of Representatives John D. Dingell official U.S. House site
  • John D. Dingell for Congress
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Ballotpedia
  • NNDB
  • Project Vote Smart
  • GovTrack
  • OpenCongress
  • Roll Call
  • Federal Election Commission
  • The Washington Post
  • On the Issues
  • The Library of Congress
  • The Washington Post
  • WorldCat catalog)
  • C-SPAN programs
  • Internet Movie Database
  • The Washington Post
  • Michigan Liberal
  • Dingell's account of his civil rights record
  • Dingell on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Preceded by
John D. Dingell, Sr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
William D. Ford
Preceded by
John Lesinski, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 16th congressional district

District eliminated
Preceded by
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
District eliminated
Preceded by
Sander Levin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 12th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Dick Cheney
Former Vice President
United States Representatives by seniority
Dean of the House
Succeeded by
John Conyers
Political offices
Preceded by
Harley O. Staggers, Sr.
West Virginia
Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
Succeeded by
Thomas J. Bliley
Preceded by
Joe Barton
Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
Succeeded by
Henry Waxman
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Kenneth J. Gray
Baby of the House
Succeeded by
Dan Rostenkowski
Preceded by
Jamie L. Whitten
Dean of the House


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