The Slatest

Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the Longest-Serving Congressman in American History, Dies at 92

John Dingell.
Former Rep. John Dingell speaks at the National Press Club on June 27, 2014, in Washington Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Michigan Democrat John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, died Thursday at the age of 92. Dingell was reported to be in hospice care this week and the end appeared imminent enough that his wife, Debbi Dingell, said she was with her husband in their Dearborn home in the suburbs of Detroit. “Friends and colleagues know me and know I would be in Washington right now unless something was up,” Debbi Dingell, who won her husband’s seat in 2014, tweeted. “I am home with John and we have entered a new phase. He is my love and we have been a team for nearly 40 years.”

Rep. John Dingell was first elected to the House in 1955, when he ran for the southeastern Michigan seat vacated by his father, who represented the district for 22 years. Over the span of nearly 60 years on Capitol Hill, Dingell was witness to a transformative era of American history. He was known as a fierce advocate for the Detroit auto industry, and the old-school Democrat fought to protect the health and environment of Americans. He played a role in the creation of Medicare in 1965 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, but exerted his influence most directly on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which he served on for the near entirety of his time in the House. After announcing his retirement in 2014, President Obama awarded Dingell the Presidential Medal of Freedom, calling him “one of the most influential legislators of all time.”

Dingell was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, and this week his family said it had metastasized and the former congressman had chosen to enter hospice care. “The Lovely Deborah is insisting I rest and stay off here, but after long negotiations we’ve worked out a deal where she’ll keep up with Twitter for me as I dictate the messages,” Dingell said in a final tweet Wednesday. “I want to thank you all for your incredibly kind words and prayers. You’re not done with me just yet.”