Dingell, McCain honored for lifetime as defenders of Congress and democracy

Congressional Management Foundation honors six others for behind-the-scenes service

The late Arizona Sen. John McCain is the recipient (along with the late Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan) of lifetime achievement democracy awards from the Congressional Management Foundation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Congressional Management Foundation will honor the late Sen. John McCain and longtime Rep. John D. Dingell, two Capitol Hill legends who died within the past year, with lifetime achievement democracy awards next month.

The nonpartisan group, which has been around since 1977 and says it aims to make Congress more effective, also selected a bipartisan slate of six  lawmakers to honor for such behind-the-scenes efforts as constituent service.

Though not exactly the Oscars for Congress, the awards toast lawmakers and congressional aides for work to improve government transparency and to foster innovations on Capitol Hill.

“Americans usually only hear about Congress when something goes wrong,” said Bradford Fitch, president and CEO of the foundation.  He said the awards seek to shine “a light on Congress when it does something right.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., will take home the “constituent service” statues.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., will receive “life in Congress workplace environment” awards, which recognize offices that have formal policies and informal cultures that enhance the work life of their aides.

And Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., will take home awards for “transparency, accountability and innovation.”

McCain, the Arizona Republican who was the 2008 GOP presidential contender, was first elected to the House in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986. He died in August at age 81.

Dingell was first sworn into Congress in 1955 and left it in January 2015 as the longest serving member in history. He died in February at 92. 

REP. JOHN D. DINGELL--Congressman John D. Dingell being sworn in by Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn in 1955..PHOTO COURTESY OF REP. JOHN D. DINGELL
Rep. John D. Dingell being sworn in by Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn in 1955. (Photo courtesy of Rep. John D. Dingell)

“It's impossible to understate the influence of these two individuals in our democracy,” Fitch said. “Beyond their legislative achievements, John Dingell and John McCain distinguished themselves as defenders of the institution of Congress, advocates for the value of democratic processes, and truly understood that mastering the art of compromise does not mean shedding one’s faith in principle.”

The foundation will present the awards June 20 and will announce the winner of the staff lifetime achievement award that day.

The finalists for that prize include Rena Diamond, an aide to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; Jim Grant, who works for Crapo; Clerk of the House Karen Haas; Susan Olson, an aide to Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.; Reynold Schweikhardt, director of technology policy for the House; and Franz Wuerfmannsdobler, an aide to Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.

The foundation set up selection committees comprised mainly of former members of Congress and one-time Hill aides and “all identifying information regarding the member office was redacted, so the selection committee reviewed only the accomplishments of each finalist,” the group said in a news release.

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