U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) was named the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s powerful and far-reaching Oversight and Investigations panel on January 15th.
The move gives the Colorado Democrat considerable sway to influence future policy decisions related to healthcare and the environment, as her party once again takes control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
As chair of the panel, DeGette will now have direct oversight authority and the power to investigate the actions of several prominent federal agencies that fall under the broader committee’s jurisdiction – including, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Department of Energy.
“I can think of no other time in our nation’s history that keeping a close watch on these agencies was so important,” DeGette said. “As chair of Energy and Commerce’s oversight and investigation panel, my top priority is to make sure that science and widely-accepted-scientific-facts are once again used as the basis for any and all of the important decisions that these agencies make every day. No longer are we going to allow these agencies to ignore, among other things, the very real effects of climate change or base their decisions on hyper-partisan rhetoric, instead of well-established scientific facts.”
DeGette, Colorado’s most senior member of Congress now in her twelfth term, said finding ways to combat climate change and make healthcare more affordable for all Americans will be two of the panel’s top priorities in the months ahead.
The first issue, however, the panel plans to tackle, according to DeGette, is the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their families at the border. The federal agency charged with caring for any undocumented children taken from their families at the border is HHS, one of the many agencies now under DeGette’s purview.
DeGette herself visited the U.S.-México border in Texas last year to see firsthand the situation on the ground and met with the families who had been separated. She said the images she saw that day will stay with her forever.
In addition to being named chair of Energy and Commerce’s Oversight and Investigations panel, DeGette was also named on January 15th to serve as a senior member on the committee’s panel on Telecommunications and its subcommittee on the Environment and Climate Change.
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