BioChief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette is serving her 8th 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. As lead whip, 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.
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.
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 and Washington Post, and continue to be lauded by newspapers across the country.
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 Modernization 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.
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.