Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Blog
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) will not be running for reelection in November, marking the end of a congressional legacy that began in 1955. Nearly 60 years after coming to Washington and serving over the course of eleven different presidential administrations, Rep. Dingell stressed his growing displeasure with the lack of productivity in Congress as a key factor in his decision.
“There is going to be a lot of blaming and finger-pointing back and forth, but all of us are at fault,” said Rep. Dingell while addressing a chamber of commerce in Michigan where he made the announcement that he’ll not seek another term in office. Elaborating on his frustrations with Congress, he said, “Congress means coming together, the great coming together of the American people.” Rep. Dingell also said he wanted to avoid getting “carried out feet first” from office.
While brokering key pieces of legislation on health and energy issues, Rep. Dingell has also been applauded by the Arab American community for his support of a sovereign Palestinian state and a strong U.S.-Lebanese bilateral relationship, including leading efforts to lift the decade-old ban on travel to Lebanon that existed during much of the 1990s. However, it was his support of the community in Michigan that won him such admiration from Arab Americans. As the community grew in size, it found a natural ally who wanted to support his constituents. However, in the face of anti-Arab bigotry and Islamophobia that have targeted Dearborn in recent years, Rep. Dingell was relentless at defending our rights—even from colleagues when it was necessary.
As the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history, Rep. Dingell’s departure opens the seat previously held by his father since 1933. While recent redistricting has altered the boundaries of his jurisdiction slightly, Rep. Dingell has represented the Arab American hub of Dearborn for decades.
The open seat from his departure is not anticipated to present an opening for Republicans as his spot is expected to be filled by a fellow democrat. Today, Rep. Dingell’s wife, Deborah Dingell, who the current Rep. Dingell said he’d support if she decides to run, announced her candidacy. Prior to her announcement, the Arab American community’s prevalence in the district fueled speculation that an Arab American candidate would run for the seat. However, because Arab American Democrats in Dearborn have been an integral part of Rep. Dingell’s team over the past several years, it is likely that before her announcement, Deborah Dingell secured the support of the Arab American Democratic establishment in Dearborn.
Dubbed “one of the most influential legislators of all time” by President Obama, Rep. Dingell’s legacy, among other things, will be his steadfast support for universal healthcare. Every year, he introduced a single-payer healthcare bill at the start of each legislative session which, it can be argued, helped pave the way for President Obama to move forward with his signature healthcare act. With his announcement, Rep. Dingell joins what seems to be a growing list of senior congressional democrats not seeking reelection in November including another long-time legislator representing Michigan, Sen. Carl Levin. Sen. Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is the longest-serving Senator in Michigan’s history. With their simultaneous departure from office, the Great Lake State is losing two key senior members of its delegation to Congress and will suffer a rather large blow to its clout on Capitol Hill.
AAI celebrates John Dingell’s lifetime of achievement and dedication to Michigan and to the country. He is a great friend of the Arab American community and his leadership in Congress will be missed. We wish him all the best in his retirement.