Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Earlier this week, members of Michigan Rep. John Dingell‘s “whip team” — the group formed to rally support behind his chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee — sent a letter to their Democratic colleagues urging them to join the team.

“Please join us in our strong, unwavering support for the re-election of John Dingell as Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Chairman’s record speaks for itself, but we also want to share the voices of other important Democratic figures regarding this great leader.”

The letter went on to quote a number of Democratic leaders — including Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi — who have offered praise for the “dean” of the House in the past. Now at least one of those leaders, Speaker Pelosi, is miffed that she was dragged unwillingly into a battle that she has thus far tried to stay out of, with a quote that’s more than three years old. An aide tells Politico that she called up one of the authors to complain.

What’s a stake here, of course, is how Congress will tackle any major legislation on energy and climate change. Enviros would prefer that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) take over the committee from Dingell, who has strong ties to Michigan’s auto industry.

Here’s the letter Dingell’s whips are circulating on Capitol Hill:

Dear Democratic Colleague:

Please join us in our strong, unwavering support for the re-election of John Dingell as Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Chairman’s record speaks for itself, but we also want to share the voices of other important Democratic figures regarding this great leader.

“The senior member of the Michigan delegation is somebody who has done more for working people than just about anybody in the history of the House of Representatives … Congressman John Dingell.” — Sen. Barack Obama, Flint, MI, June 15, 2008

“I’ve never met anybody who worked harder for the interest of ordinary Americans and working families than John Dingell — anybody who stood up more, and more consistently. As you know, he has worked to clean up the Great Lakes. He played a key role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He has saved American taxpayers literally billions of dollars by investigating and exposing waste, fraud, and abuse. He hasn’t just talked about it, he’s done it.” — President Bill Clinton, Taylor, MI, March 4, 1996

“On so many issues, from health care to the environment, to protecting the rights of workers and consumers, Congressman Dingell has been a leader, fighting for the American values we cherish.” — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, The News-Herald, October 16, 2005

“[Dingell’s] career is marked by the respect, honor and dignity that he has brought to the task of serving his constituents and his country. It has been and will continue to be a pleasure to work with him in the United States Congress, and an honor to call him my friend.” — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, The News-Herald, October 16, 2005

“Someday … people will ask what made America finally live up to its ideals by making health care a right for all and not just a privilege for the few. More than anything else, the answer to that question will be John Dingell and his dedication to that great cause throughout his brilliant career … ” — Sen. Ted Kennedy, The News-Herald, October 16, 2005

“Through a long, brilliant and distinguished career, John Dingell has made a lasting contribution to improve the lives of many Americans through the legislative process. He has been a champion of the people, and those of us who served with him and count him as a friend are more than lucky, we are blessed.” — Rep. John Lewis, The News-Herald, October 16, 2005

We invite all Members to add their voices to the strong chorus of support for Chairman Dingell within our Democratic Caucus.

Sincerely,

Bart Stupak, member of Congress
Mike Doyle, member of Congress
Chet Edwards, member of Congress
Bobby Rush, member of Congress