Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette is serving her 9th term in Congress as Representative for the First District of Colorado. As a member of the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce, an exclusive congressional committee with vast jurisdiction over health care, trade, business, technology, food safety, and consumer protection, she is one of the leading voices in the health care debate in this country. She also serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which conducts the oversight of, and investigations into, issues falling under the jurisdiction of the full committee. As a member of the Democratic leadership, she played a vital role in the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, has fought for tough food safety legislation, and was a key player in crafting a comprehensive consumer product safety bill.
U.S. Rep. DeGette is also the chief architect of legislation to expand stem cell research, which has been passed twice with broad, bipartisan support in Congress. The measure was vetoed twice by President George W. Bush – including his very first presidential veto. A life-long Coloradoan, U.S. Rep. DeGette is guided by traditional Western values. She’s also the author of the landmark Colorado Wilderness Act, which would protect and preserve pristine land across Colorado for generations to come. She has fought to enhance her constituents’ access to affordable quality health care, expand mass transit, improve transportation in the Denver area, clean up environmental waste sites, and improve opportunities for small business.
In 2005, U.S. Rep. DeGette was promoted to the House Democratic leadership as Chief Deputy Whip. As a Whip, she works to ensure passage of key pieces of legislation and orchestrate opposition to Republican legislation that is antithetical to Democratic values. Steadily rising in the Democratic Whip organization since her first term in Congress, U.S. Rep. DeGette previously served six years as Regional Whip and two years as the Democratic Floor Whip.
As Vice Chair of the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce from 2007 to 2011, U.S. Rep. DeGette served as the Acting Chair of the committee in the Chairman’s absence, spearheaded projects, and assisted the Chairman in promoting the Committee’s legislative agenda.
A member of the Committee since her first term in Congress, she has used her position to improve health care, expand medical research, reform corporate business and accounting practices, ensure that our homeland is adequately protected, take on global climate change, and move America toward energy independence. She is the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and also serves on the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
In January, 2011, Rep. DeGette was elected the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has historically been a starting point for many high-profile issues. As Ranking Member in the 112th Congress, Rep. DeGette will be charged with leading Democrats as the Subcommittee examines the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, proposed rules on network neutrality, and efforts to protect our environment from the harmful effects of pollution and climate change.
Stem Cell Research
U.S. Rep. DeGette has become one of Congress’s leading experts on cutting-edge scientific research and is the author of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. This important legislation would overturn former President Bush's draconian restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and reassert the role of the United States as the worldwide leader in medical innovation. It passed the House and Senate in both the 109th and 110th Congresses with broad, bipartisan support, but was vetoed by President Bush both times.
In March of 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order reversing former President Bush’s restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. Standing next to the President as he signed the order, U.S. Rep. DeGette is working with the Obama Administration on codifying the order into law.
U.S. Rep. DeGette is committed to expanding access to health care and improving public health. She has led efforts to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides health insurance to low-income children up to age 18. Appointed as lead whip by the Democratic Leadership, U.S. Rep. DeGette played a central role in passing legislation to reauthorize and enhance SCHIP during the 110th Congress. In the 111th Congress, U.S. Rep. DeGette was a leader in the expansion of this program that was signed into law by President Obama in February of 2009. As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Diabetes Caucus, U.S. Rep. DeGette has also been a long-time advocate for the expansion of diabetes care and research, particularly for lower-income and minority communities.
U.S. Rep. DeGette also played a key role in the drafting and passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2010.
Food and Consumer Product Safety
U.S. Rep. DeGette has taken a leading role in advocating for the protection of our nation’s food supply. In light of the daunting food contamination outbreaks, U.S. Rep. DeGette believes that the protection of our nation’s food supply should be recognized as a critical component of our national security. She is the author of two key pieces of legislation that go a long way toward securing our nation's food supply.
The first, The SAFER (Safe And Fair Enforcement & Recall) Food Act, would give the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration the authority to force a recall of all contaminated foods. Under current law, recalls are completely voluntary - even when public health is at risk. Giving these agencies mandatory recall authority would speed the removal of tainted foods from circulation and significantly reduce the risk of food-borne illness. This bill will promote public safety and improve consumer confidence. This measure was incorporated into the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2008, which was the Energy and Commerce’s food safety legislation during the 110th Congress. The second, The TRACE (Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination) Act would authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a product tracing system to track products from their origins to the grocery store, enabling faster recall in the event of contamination. This proposal will assist consumers and retailers in identifying and removing tainted products from refrigerators and store shelves.
Both food safety measures were endorsed by the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Denver Post and continue to be lauded by newspapers across the country. Elements of both were included in the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was the first update to America’s food safety infrastructure in decades, and was signed into law by President Obama in January of 2011.
U.S. Rep. DeGette was also a key player in the creation and passage of groundbreaking consumer product safety legislation that was signed into law in 2008. As a member of the conference committee, she fought for a tough lead standard and negotiated the ban on phthalates in the final bill – the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. While speaking on the House floor, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, the Ranking Republican Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said that Congresswoman DeGette deserved the Henry Kissinger Award for brokering the ban on the dangerous chemical.
Reproductive Health and Choice
As the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, U.S. Rep. DeGette has fought for common-sense family planning and reproductive rights. She is a lead sponsor of the Prevention First agenda, which is a comprehensive, bi-partisan approach to reducing unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.
As the a member of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. DeGette has taken the lead on a variety of investigations including the National Institutes of Health ethics guidelines, the safety of the diet supplement Ephedra, and child exploitation over the Internet. She has established a national reputation as a leader on corporate accountability issues during her committee’s investigations of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Hewlett Packard and other companies embroiled in scandals. As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee in the 112th Congress, she is committed to working with her colleagues to help make government work better for her constituents, while simultaneously standing up to frivolous assaults on the protections that help keep Americans safe.
IN THE NEWS
U.S. Rep. DeGette has been featured on a wide spectrum of news outlets, including ABC (World News with Charlie Gibson and Good Morning America), NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, Fox News Channel (America’s News HQ), MSNBC (Rachel Maddow Show), CNBC, and CNN (Lou Dobbs Reports). U.S. Rep. DeGette is also regularly quoted in major newspapers across the nation, including the Denver Post, Washington Post, New York Times, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times, as well as magazines including Newsweek, Time, The Atlantic and 5280.
A fourth-generation Coloradoan, U.S. Rep. DeGette graduated from Denver’s South High School, received her B.A. magna cum laude from Colorado College in 1979 and her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1982. She served two terms in the Colorado House of Representatives serving as Assistant Minority Leader from 1993-1995.
U.S. Rep. DeGette is married to attorney Lino Lipinsky. They have two daughters and a dog named Charlie.