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Dingell to retire from Congress

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(Rep. John Dingell Jr. website photo)
Rep. John Dingell Jr.

WASHINGTON (Feb. 25, 2014) — Rep. John D. Dingell Jr., D-Mich., longtime friend of the auto industry and the longest serving member of the U.S. House, has announced he will retire from Congress at the end of his current term.

Rep. Dingell, 87, has represented southeastern Michigan in the House of Representatives for nearly six decades. He won election to Congress in a special election in December 1955 to replace his father, Rep. John D. Dingell Sr., who died in office. He will retire after completing his term when the current Congress ends.

In remarks prepared for his annual "State of the District" speech to the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Dingell, who headed the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 1980s and 1990s and then briefly again after the Democrats won control of the House in 2007, said he and his wife have discussed whether he should seek re-election every two years.

"My standards are high for this job," he said in the prepared remarks. "I put myself to the test and have always known that when the time came that I felt I could not live up to my own personal standard for a member of Congress, it would be time to step aside for someone else to represent this district. That time has come."

Best known for his many years as chairman and then ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Dingell was a reliable supporter of the auto industry in Congress. He advocated the industry's cause in landmark legislation of the 1960s and 1970s including the National Highway Traffic Safety Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

In 2008, Rep. Dingell lost his Energy and Commerce chairmanship to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Rep. Waxman also is retiring from Congress after the November election.

Critic of state regulation

He rocked the insurance industry in 1990 when the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee that he chaired released its report "Failed Promises." The report, which blasted the quality of state insurance regulation, rekindled the debate over what role, if any, the federal government should play in insurance regulation, which has traditionally been a province of the states.

He later introduced a bill to provide federal insurance solvency regulation, but it never was enacted. His 1994 follow-up report, "Wishful Thinking," was no more complimentary to state regulation of insurance than his initial report. By then, significant portions of the insurance industry had endorsed the idea of federal solvency oversight for multistate insurers.

Rep. Dingell was an original co-sponsor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Reporter Mark A. Hofmann with Crain's Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business, contributed to this report.

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