The news of former Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell’s death shook the political world Thursday night as memorials poured in from political leaders spanning his decades as the House’s longest-serving member.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Dingell “one of the finest public servants in American history.”
“There are few major legislative triumphs since 1955 that John didn’t have a key hand in passing,” the Clintons said in a statement, pointing to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“His respect for his constituents, his colleagues of both parties, and the institutions of Congress are a valuable reminder today of what a noble calling public service can be,” the Clintons wrote.
Former President Barack Obama mourned Dingell, calling him proof that change “does not always come with a flash, but instead with steady, determined effort.”
“John sat beside me when I signed the Affordable Care Act – a law that nearly cut in half the uninsured rate in America. He had a long tradition of introducing legislation on the first day of each new Congress to guarantee health care for every single American,” Obama said in a statement.
“Because of him, we’ve come closer to that vision than ever before. And when we finally achieve it – and we will – we’ll all owe him our gratitude,” Obama added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement calling Dingell a “beloved pillar of the Congress and one of the greatest legislators in American history.”
“Every chapter of Chairman John Dingell’s life has been lived in service to our country, from his time as a House Page, to his service in the Army during World War II, to his almost six decades serving the people of Michigan in the U.S. Congress,” Pelosi said. “John Dingell leaves a towering legacy of unshakable strength, boundless energy and transformative leadership.”
Many of the tributes came in on Dingell’s favorite social network, Twitter.
Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted, “John Dingell was the Dean of the House. He earned that title — not just because he was there the longest — but because he led with great moral courage and vision. He was a friend and I will miss him terribly. Debbie is in my prayers.”
Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow said on Twitter, “John D. Dingell – true Michigan and American legend, the Dean of the House and my longtime friend. We have been incredibly lucky to have you and will miss you dearly. Sending my love to @RepDebDingell and all of John’s loved ones in this difficult time.”
Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters posted on Twitter, “John was a true statesman: he embodied the values, spirit, & dedication that all public servants should aspire to have. He was a mentor to me & countless others who sought to give back to their communities. I will never forget his wise counsel as I learned my way around Congress.”
Peters added, “Chairman Dingell will always be with us because his legacy will be forever woven into the history of Michigan and our country. Colleen and I are grieving with @RepDebDingell and the Dingell family as we remember the extraordinary Dean of the House. We will miss you Mr. Chairman.”
“John Dingell left a lasting impression with everyone he met. As the longest serving member of the House in history, he will be missed and remembered for his lifetime of service. Farewell to the Dean of the House and deepest condolences to his wife @RepDebDingell,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter.
California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted, “What a life. As the longest-serving member of Congress, John Dingell helped increase access to health care, defended the auto industry, and was always good for just the right tweet. Sending @RepDebDingell and the rest of her family all my love.”
“John Dingell will be remembered as a legendary public servant who served his constituents honorably for six decades. My heart is with the Dingell family during this difficult time,” tweeted New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker.
“Rest In Peace, #JohnDingell. It was an honor to serve with a giant of Congress who helped write the Affordable Care Act & cared about oversight of the executive branch. His work will live on through his wife @RepDebDingell & a new generation inspired by his sick Twitter burns,” said California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell on Twitter.