Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette is serving her 11th 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.
Rep. DeGette played a pivotal role in the development of comprehensive health reform, and she led the overhaul of our nation’s food safety system. She is one of Congress’s leading experts on cutting-edge scientific research and is a recognized leader on the subject of human embryonic stem cell research.
As the Democratic leader of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which became law in December 2016, Rep. DeGette helped modernize medical research to enable more discoveries in the lab that could lead to treatments and cures for patients. This law seeks to remake our medical research system to reflect the current environment for researchers, patients, doctors, drug and medical device developers, and everyone involved in treating diseases.
In March 2018, the United States Association of Former Members of Congress gave Congresswoman DeGette its Statesmanship Award for her work to pass this legislation in a collaborative and bipartisan manner, together with Republican Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan. In November 2017 she was honored by the Javits Foundation for this achievement. Named after the late New York Senator Jacob Javits, the foundation works to revive this renowned public servant’s commitment to cooperation and collaboration across party lines. Even in a time of intense division, Congresswoman DeGette continues her practice of reaching across the aisle whenever possible to get results for Coloradans and all Americans.
A life-long Coloradoan, 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, 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, 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, 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 Subcommittee on Health.
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 115th Congress, Rep. DeGette is charged with leading Democrats as the Subcommittee examines the leading causes of the country's opioid epidemic, sexual assault and doping in organized sports, online consumer privacy and protection on websites such as Facebook, and more.
A life-long Coloradan with an appreciation for natural resources, Rep. DeGette understands the vital importance of protecting the planet. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on the Environment, she is working to advance common-sense policies that promote conservation and protect public health. Throughout her time in Congress, Rep. DeGette has advocated for sound laws that protect the earth for future generations while growing the clean energy economy.
She was a leading proponent of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which became law in 2016. This milestone bill provided much-needed updates to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the tools it needs to regulate harmful chemicals effectively. In every Congress since 1999, Rep. DeGette has introduced the Colorado Wilderness Act to preserve Colorado’s remaining wild places. Rep. DeGette was the author of the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act, which became law in 2011 and lets the Forest Service permit appropriate summer and year-round activities at ski areas. In addition, she shepherded into law a bill in the 115th Congress that improves LED lighting efficiency, and is working to pass legislation that protects groundwater from the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking), promotes hydropower projects on existing infrastructure, and more.
Stem Cell Research
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.
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, Rep. DeGette played a central role in passing legislation to reauthorize and enhance SCHIP during the 110th Congress. In the 111th Congress, she 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, Rep. DeGette has also been a long-time advocate for the expansion of diabetes care and research, particularly for lower-income and minority communities.
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
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, she believes that the protection of our nation’s food supply should be recognized as a critical component of our national security.
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, 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, 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, bipartisan approach to reducing unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.
As the Ranking Member of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, 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. As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee in the 115th 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.
Rep. DeGette has been engaged in issues of civil rights all her professional life. She practiced employment law in Denver with a particular focus on the rights of employees and, as a state and federal legislator, has worked to protect the rights of women, immigrants, minorities and others in Colorado and across the country. In 2009, the ACLU of Colorado Foundation recognized Rep. DeGette’s contributions to civil rights with its Carle Whitehead Memorial Award, named for a local attorney who showed “unswerving devotion to the cause of human justice.” The honor is bestowed each year on Coloradans whose lives reflect this trait. In 2018, NEWSED Community Development Corporation recognized Rep. DeGette with its Civil Rights Award.
Rep. DeGette has been featured on a wide spectrum of news outlets, including ABC, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNBC, and CNN. 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.