Representative Diana DeGette has served District 1 since 1997 and won reelection in November 2018. As the new legislative session began, she sat down with the Front Porch and other community newspapers to share some of her priorities for this session. In January, DeGette was named Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee and she was appointed to serve on the House Natural Resources Committee. In addition she serves on subcommittees on the Environment & Climate Change and Communications & Technology.
DeGette cites the wide-ranging reach of the Energy and Commerce Committee: “…the Energy and Commerce Committee has very broad jurisdiction over everything relating to the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, so what that means is energy policy, environmental policy, all of healthcare policy, and jurisdiction over drug issues … consumer protection, food safety, telecommunications and the internet—and part of that is net neutrality. In fact, we have jurisdiction over sports.” She cites the hearings on the sexual assaults in gymnastics in 2018 and the establishment of SafeSport as examples of the Committee’s work.
A host of federal agencies fall under the Committee’s purview, including: the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration and the Department of Energy. “The theme for our Oversight subcommittee is science,” DeGette states. “We are bringing in experts and documents; I don’t think you can legislate unless you have a strong scientific foundation.”
DeGette’s immediate priorities include:
Family Separation: In early February, the Oversight subcommittee began hearings on the family-separation policy launched under President Trump in 2018. The panel sought to establish the total number of children still waiting to be reunited with parents and/or guardians, and learn from psychologists and other experts about the long-term consequences of family separation on children.
Climate Change: The day after the State of the Union, the Environment and Climate Change subcommittee held its first hearing on climate change in over six years. Hearings will also investigate the Trump administration’s rollbacks of the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Air Act and other environmental protections including methane emissions.
Drug Pricing: A 2018 report on insulin pricing co-authored with Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) recommends that “Congress should pursue a handful of legislative actions to increase price transparency, promote competition among insulin makers, and encourage the use of value-based contracts.” The report defines value-based contracts as “arrangements between different entities along the supply chain that pay higher rates for better patient health outcomes, instead of higher sale volume.”
Women’s Health: In Spring 2019, hearings on women’s health issues including family planning, abstinence-only programs, and Title X (Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs) restrictions will take place. DeGette said she would ultimately like to enact a program at the national level like Colorado’s highly successful Family Planning Initiative with Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC). While bringing in scientists and experts to testify should not be “news,” says DeGette, “Previous discussions of family planning, fetal tissue research and other issues have never had scientists testify.”