Levin’s Floor Statement Honoring John Dingell

Jun 27, 2013

Mr. LEVIN. Well, Mr. Dingell, there are many aspects of life that I could comment on, for example, friendship.

Our families have known each other well over 75 years, going back to the relationship between your father and some of my relatives. It's been a long time. And I could talk about the friendship between yourself and your wife, Debbie, and our family for part of that time.

I could also talk about your accomplishments, and there have been so many. I remember when I first came, how we worked to clean up the Rouge River; and without your efforts, I think today it would be more like it was than it now is.

We could talk about health care and your historical role. We could talk about broader issues of clean water and clean air. We could talk about your devotion to the auto industry of this country and what would have happened all these years except for your dedication. And there are more accomplishments that I could talk about.

But instead, let me just say a few words about what struck me as you spoke a few weeks ago as we were celebrating your tenure. And you spoke at some length. The rumor is that Debbie, a few times, said, cut it a bit shorter, but you went on; and the reason I think you did is what I want to speak about.

You began to talk about your years here, not in terms of the number of years, but what you have seen about this institution. And I think all of us who were there were glad that you continued to talk, because you've been here 55 years as a Member, and you've seen the changes, you've seen how there was a greater sense of working together in this place.

You saw and were a key part of sure differences and, with you, sometimes sharp questioning, but there was a greater feel of common purpose in this unparalleled institution, and you spoke how we have lost some of it.

So that's really what I wanted to focus on, because if anybody can speak about the need for all of us who work here and all of us who are Members here, if there's anybody who can remind us of how the importance of this institution should determine how we relate to each other, it's John Dingell.

And I must confess, as I listened to your words, I felt that there had been something lost and that you reminded us it was vital that we regain. And it was interesting; you didn't really want to talk about anything else except your love for Debbie and this institution.

So you, in a sense, are Mr. Institution. And your belief in it, your belief in our need to remind ourselves as to how we must try to work together, how we must try to relate, how we must try to take our basic principles--and you really have them--to use them not as a wall, but as an opportunity to proceed.

So we owe you a lot. Your constituents owe you a lot, though you'll deny it. But all of us, I think, owe you immensely for the years you have served here, for your dedication, for your honesty, and for your reminding people in this institution why it was founded.

In that sense, I think you are the exemplar of what sparked this creation in its first place. Keep going, keep reminding, and I hope we'll begin to follow better than we have.