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Remembering iconic Michigan lawmaker Rep. John Dingell

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., passed away Thursday at the age of 92. He was the longest-tenured member of Congress, serving for nearly 60 years before retiring in 2015. The son of a 12-term congressman, Dingell was known as a dealmaker particularly passionate about healthcare reform, which his father had proposed in the 1940s. Judy Woodruff looks back at his long and prolific career in the House.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    And John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history, has also died. The Michigan Democrat passed away Thursday night at his home in Detroit.

    Judy Woodruff remembers the influential politician and his legacy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Born in Colorado, but raised in Michigan and Washington, D.C., John David Dingell Jr. was the son of a 12-term congressman.

    Dingell joined the Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He returned to Washington to earn a degree in chemistry and law from Georgetown. But after the death of his father in 1955, 29-year-old Dingell followed in his political footsteps, winning a special election to succeed John Sr.

    He became known as a dealmaker, chairing the Energy and Commerce Committee, and working on major pieces of legislation, from the 1964 Civil Rights Act to the Clean Air Act and the Affordable Care Act.

  • Barack Obama:

    A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943; 65 years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    By the mid-'90s, Dingell earned the title of dean of the House, the longest serving member. The Michigan congressman went on to serve for nearly 60 years, before retiring in 2015.

  • Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.:

    I put myself to the test. And I want to know, when the time comes, whether I can live up to my own personal standards as a member of Congress. I'm going to give the last that I can assuredly give and the last that I can proudly give to my people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Dingell's wife, Debbie, now represents his Dearborn district, after winning the election to fill his seat in 2014.

    For years after, Dingell remained active on Twitter, where he developed a loyal following for his cutting wit and partisan banter. Reacting to a number of White House resignations in 2017, Dingell tweeted: "Truman installed a bowling alley. Carter tried solar panels. Trump is fully invested in a revolving door."

    And for his life's work in the House, President Obama awarded the dean of the House the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.

  • Barack Obama:

    His life reminds us that change takes time, it takes courage and persistence, but if we push hard enough and long enough, change is possible.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    John Dingell was 92 years old.

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