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Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)

U.S. Representative (since January 1997)

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Why She Matters

DeGette is the most senior legislator in Colorado’s House delegation, and in the 111th Congress she held a large amount of power as the House Democratic chief deputy whip and the vice chair of the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee.

With the Republicans taking control of the House in 2010, DeGette lost her vice chair position, but she is still a chief deputy whip and the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Colorado House (1992-1996); Attorney (1982-1992)
  • Birthday: July 29, 1957
  • Hometown: Denver
  • Alma Mater: B.A. from Colorado College (1979); J.D. from New York University School of Law (1982
  • Spouse: Lino Lipinksy
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • Committees: Energy and Commerce Committee ; Natural Resources Committee
  • DC Office: 2335 Rayburn House office building, Washington DC 20515Phone: (202) 225-4431
  • District Office: Denver, (303) 844-4988
  • Website
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Path to Power

A fourth-generation Coloradan, DeGette obtained a law degree from New York University in 1982. She returned to Denver to work in the public defender's office and later entered private practice, focusing on employment and civil-rights law. Elected in 1992 to the Colorado House, she soon became assistant minority leader.

U.S. House

In 1995, 12-term Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) announced that she wouldn't seek re-election in Colorado's 1st district, a heavily-Democratic seat that encompasses all of Denver. DeGette, then only 38, won the Democratic nomination with surprising ease against a candidate who had the support of Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. The district's partisan make-up made her the favorite in the general election. She warned against letting "a small core of extremists determine our social policy" and prevailed by 17%.

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The Issues

DeGette has made public health and consumer protection her legislative priorities. Best known for championing stem-cell research, the congresswoman has also focused on expanding health-insurance programs for children and advocating for abortion rights.

Since January 2009, she has sat on the Natural Resources Committee. For the past decade, she has regularly introduced legislation seeking to designate more than one million acres in Colorado as wilderness area."I cannot… let every last acre of our state be sold to the highest bidder," she argued in 2007. DeGette, who did not get Republicans to hold a hearing on the bill when they controlled the House, was hopeful she could push it further once Democrats regained a majority; yet, even the 2007 version failed to get past the subcommittee stage.

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The Network

DeGette enjoys a strong working relationship with a number of senior House Democrats. In 2005, she became a close collaborator of then-House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who tapped her to be chief deputy whip; Hoyer is now the Democrats' majority leader. DeGette is also an ally of former House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, who handpicked her as the vice-chairwoman of that committee. She continues in that role under new chairman Henry Waxman.

DeGette has built a network of allies on issues relating to health care and reproductive rights. To pass stem-cell legislation, she formed an efficient partnership with then-Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.). DeGette also works with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) on reproductive health issues; the two lawmakers co-chair the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.

 

Additional Resources

  1. Morgan, Ryan, "DeGette, Chlouber debate money issues House rivals differ on taxes and economy," The Denver Post, October 31, 2002
  2. Romano, Michael, "DeGette calls for ban on rapid-fire ammo clips," Rocky Mountain News, April 1, 1998 and Kane, Arthur, "Rival hits DeGette on trade, vouchers House race pits incumbent against GOP's Thomas," The Denver Post, October 9, 2000.
  3. Morgan, Ryan, "Styles clash in 1st District race Democratic incumbent faces challenge for Denver seat from transplanted Leadville state senator DeGette delves into the details, indulging taste for complex issues," The Denver Post, October 21, 2002
  4. Morgan, Ryan, "Teamsters back GOP's Chlouber DeGette vote in 2000 irks union," The Denver Post, September 18, 2002
  5. Thomas.gov
  6. Kelly, Guy, "Vying to succeed Schroeder; Denver native DeGette called 'gutsy,' 'partisan'," Rocky Mountain News, July 21, 1996; Brooke, James, "A Contentious Contest Develops in Denver to Fill Schroeder's Seat," The New York Times, September 26, 1996
  7. Marshall, Christie, "DeGette bringing bills to table for food safety The Denver representative says the federal government should force recalls and track product movement," The Denver Post, August 29, 2007 and DeGette's House website
  8. Hildner, Matt, "DeGette's wilderness proposal gets mixed reception in SLV," The Pueblo Chieftain, Septemer 14, 2007
  9. Kelly, Guy, "Vying to succeed Schroeder; Denver native DeGette called 'gutsy,' 'partisan'," Rocky Mountain News, July 21, 1996
  10. Farrell, John Aloysius, "Diana DeGette finds her issue," The Denver Post, July 23, 2006
  11. Roll call vote
  12. Langel, Stephen "Democrats' economic arguments considered unlikely to win additional GOP support for SCHIP veto override," CongressNow, January 22, 2008 and Pear, Robert, "G.O.P. Leaders Fight Expansion of Children's Health Insurance," The New York Times, July 25, 2007
  13. Langel, Stephen, "Some House lawmakers see SCHIP bill as a missed opportunity," CongressNow, January 12, 2009
  14. Sprengelmeyer, M.E. "DeGette bill triumphs; stem-cell research approved, despite Bush veto threat," Rocky Mountain News, May 25, 2005
  15. Davant, Charles, "DeGette bill simplifies coverage for kids," The Denver Post, February 25, 1999
  16. "DeGette deserves 5th term 1st district," The Denver Post, October 17, 2004
  17. Roos, Charles, "Local squalls break up placid campaign weather," Rocky Mountain News, July 17, 2000
  18. Roll call vote
  19. Mulkern, Anne, "'No' is a sign of close race House, Senate candidates in tight Colo. contests reject plan," The Denver Post, October 5, 2008
  20. Griffin, Greg, "DeGette holds key China vote She's undecided on trade relations," The Denver Post, April 28, 2000
  21. Kohler, Judith, "DeGette bill would designate 1.65 million acres as wilderness," The Associated Press, September 12, 2007
  22. Zapler, Mike, "DeGette joins powerful panel House newcomer also deputy whip," The Denver Post, November 22, 1996
  23. Ruskin, Steve, "DeGette's science sermon," Rocky Mountain News, August 15, 2008
  24. Riley, Michael, "DeGette relishes stem-cell triumph," Denver Post, March 10, 2009
  25. Almanac of American Politics, 2008
  26. Norris, Wendy, "DeGette bill aims to stop 11th hour anti-reproductive health rule," Colorado Independent, November 26, 2008 and Lillis, Mike, "Democrats eye options in overturning health care 'conscience clause,'" Colorado Independent, January 2, 2009
  27. "Senator Feinstein urges toxic phtalates removed from children's toys by February 10," San Francisco Chronicle, November 30, 2008
  28. Kelly, Guy, "DeGette still proud to be called a liberal; District 1 candidate strong on families, health, education and environment," Rocky Mountain News, October 27, 1996
  29. Roll call vote
  30. "The sanctity of our Constitution, not marriage, is at stake," statement from Diana DeGette's office, February 14, 2004
  31. Mulkern, Anne, "DeGette raising issue in other House races," The Denver Post, August 24, 2006
  32. Kelly, Guy, "DeGette easily wins 1st District over Sandos' Former state representative favored for Schroeder's seat," Rocky Mountain News, August 14, 1996
  33. Lengell, Sean, "Democrats rush bill, Republicans charge; Children's health funding at issue," The Washington Times, July 27, 2007
  34. Billings, Erin, "Tanner, DeGette Climb Whip Ladder," Roll Call, January 4, 2005