Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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Biography

Rep. Diana DeGette is a fourth-generation Coloradoan who has dedicated her life to serving the people of Colorado’s First Congressional District.

Now in her twelfth term, DeGette is recognized as a leading voice in the nation’s ongoing health care debate. And as the newly-appointed chair of a key oversight panel, DeGette is responsible for overseeing some of our nation’s most important federal agencies – including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In her role as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, DeGette has quickly become a leading figure in holding the Trump administration accountable for its shameful policy of separating undocumented families at the border, ensuring the EPA is properly enforcing the nation’s environmental laws, slowing the spread of measles here in the U.S., and lowering the cost of insulin for the millions of Americans who rely on it every day.

In addition to chairing the Energy and Commerce Oversight panel, DeGette also serves as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, where she’s working to enact policies that will further protect Colorado’s public lands and combat climate change, as well as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Telecommunications Subcommittee.

A leader on health care…

Rep. DeGette believes Congress has a responsibility to make health care more accessible and more affordable for all Americans. And among her Congressional colleagues, she is seen as a leading expert on cutting-edge scientific research, including the use of human embryonic stem cells.

In 2005, DeGette authored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which sought to overturn the restrictions President George W. Bush put in place to prohibit the use embryonic stem cells for research purposes. While Congress voted twice to approve DeGette’s legislation, each time it did President Bush vetoed it. Finally, in March 2009, President Obama signed an executive order with the language from DeGette’s bill to reverse the restrictions.

In addition to expanding the use of stem cell research, DeGette was instrumental in expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides health insurance to low-income children. She also played a key role in drafting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2010.

Despite her many health care-related accomplishments, the one piece of legislation DeGette may be known best for is the 21st Century Cures Act, which she authored to modernize the nation’s medical research system. The bill, known simply as the Cures Act, has been widely hailed as one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress has passed in recent years. And from cancer research to precision medicine, it is already enabling more labs to make discoveries that could soon lead to new cures and treatments for patients around the world.

Fighting to protect women’s rights…

As co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, DeGette has been an outspoken leader in the fight to protect women’s right to access reproductive health care services.

In 2019, she co-authored legislation, known as the EACH Woman Act, to overturn turn the so-called Hyde Amendment, which currently prevents federal insurance coverage – such as Medicaid, which primarily covers low-income Americans, or Tricare, which primarily covers members of the military and their families – from paying for abortion services.

DeGette is also the lead sponsor of the Prevention First agenda, which seeks to reduce the need for abortions by increasing women’s access to birth control other family-planning services aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies from occurring in the first place.

She’s also a vocal advocate for the Equal Pay Act, which the House passed in 2019, to help close the gender pay gap and ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.

Fighting to protect the environment…

As a lifelong Coloradan, DeGette is guided by her traditional Western values and has a unique appreciation for our nation’s natural resources and public lands. In 2019, DeGette sponsored legislation, which was signed into law this year, to make all of our national parks and public lands free for fourth grade students and their families. She is also the author of a landmark piece of legislation, known as the Colorado Wilderness Act, which would protect and preserve an additional 740,000 acres of land across Colorado for generations to come.

As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, DeGette is working to enact several new policies aimed at combating the effects of climate change and help grow our country’s clean energy economy.

In 2007, DeGette successfully brokered a deal to enact tough new lead standards across the country to protect Americans. She also played a key role in the effort to ban phthalates, a dangerous chemical which is harmful to children. And now, as chair of the subcommittee that’s responsible for overseeing the FDA, DeGette has taken a leading role in protecting our nation’s food supply and believes it should be seen as a critical component of our nation’s overall security.

Fighting to protect civil rights…

DeGette’s passion for public service and protecting people’s rights is what led her to ultimately seek public office. As an attorney in the Denver area, DeGette focused primarily on protecting the rights of workers. As a state legislator, and now a member of Congress, DeGette continues to work tirelessly to protect the rights of women, immigrants and minorities both in Colorado and across the country.

In 2019, DeGette convened the first House oversight hearing on the Trump administration’s controversial policy of separating families at the border and has vowed to continue fighting for the better treatment of immigrants and their families.

In recognition of her outstanding commitment to protecting civil rights, the ACLU of Colorado awarded DeGette with its Carle Whitehead Memorial Award, which it gives to those who make extraordinary contributions to protecting civil rights and furthering civil liberties in Colorado. DeGette is also the recipient of the NEWSED Community Development Corporation’s Civil Rights Award for her work to protect the rights of her fellow Coloradans.

A champion of bipartisanship…

Even in times of intense political division, DeGette has shown a willingness to reach across the aisle to get results for the people of her district.

In 2017, DeGette was honored by the Javits Foundation for her renowned commitment to cooperation and collaboration across party lines.

In 2018, the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress awarded DeGette with its Statesmanship award for her efforts to pass legislation in a collaborative and bipartisan manner.

A lifelong Denverite…

As a lifelong Denverite, DeGette graduated from Denver’s South High School. She earned her B.A, magna cum laude, from Colorado College in 1979; and a J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1982.

Before serving in the U.S. House, DeGette served two terms in the Colorado House of Representatives where she served as Assistant Minority Leader from 1993-1995.

In 1996, after her second term in the Colorado House, DeGette was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she continues to serve the people of Colorado’s 1st Congressional District.

DeGette is married to Judge Lino Lipinsky. They have two daughters and a dog named Charlie.