Debbie Dingell: U.S. rep committed to bipartisanship
The Democrat who represents Michigan's 12th Congressional District believes in talking about the issues across the aisle, with civil dialogue and respect. "We need to stop demonizing other people," she says. Dale G. Young, The Detroit News
Since her election to Congress in 2014, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell has beat the drum of bipartisanship
Since her election to Congress in 2014, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell has beat the drum of bipartisanship, calling for more frequent meetings of the Michigan delegation’s Republicans and Democrats, and urging members of both parties to talk and listen to one another.
She often says there is more that unites Republicans and Democrats than divides them.
But not everyone in Washington — or Michigan — wants to heed that advice.
“Not everybody thinks bipartisanship is a good thing. I think it’s very important that we find out where the common ground is,” said Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat.
“The American people are tired of the partisan bickering, and they want to see us get things done. Our responsibility is to figure out how to work together.”
After the recent shooting at a GOP practice for the annual congressional baseball game, Dingell penned a commentary with Republican Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham. They said it should be a “wake-up call for all of us.”
“Today our political rhetoric has become increasingly vitriolic and divisive,” they wrote. “Too often we retreat to our familiar corners to talk to people who think like us, look like us, and consume only the news that fits our view.”
Dingell said members shouldn’t “demonize” one another and need to pay more attention to their tone when addressing the other side of the aisle.
“I won’t demonize my colleagues. They are my friends. I may not agree with them, and don’t on a number of issues, but demonizing people doesn’t help anybody get anything accomplished.”
Dingell, 63, succeeded her husband, John D. Dingell, in the U.S. House in 2015 after he retired.
She previously was a member of the Democratic National Committee and chaired the Wayne State University Board of Governors. She worked for more than 30 years at General Motors, where she was president of the GM Foundation and a senior executive for public affairs.
Dingell, now a sophomore in the House, is proud that when her class of freshmen joined the Michigan delegation in 2015, the five of them pledged to work together.
“We stayed close. We learn about issues together. We encourage the delegation to have regular meetings. Hopefully, that’s going to continue,” Dingell said. “We’re a Michigan community, and we work together to fight for Michigan issues.”
When she introduces legislation, Dingell always tries to find a Republican co-sponsor, in part because the GOP controls the chamber, but also because, she said, “to win, you have to find enough people to build a coalition.”
She said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was “dead on” in a recent speech when he denounced Washington’s partisan gamesmanship and win-at-all-costs bills like the Senate’s health care overhaul legislation. McCain wants to see more compromise among his colleagues.
“We need to have real and honest conversations with each other — an exchange of ideas,” Dingell said.
“Be open to what one another is thinking and find that common ground.”
Occupation: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Georgetown University
Family: Husband, former Congressman John D. Dingell Jr.
Why honored: For her commitment to bipartisanship