Monday, October 2, 2023 -
Print Edition

A conversation with Diana DeGette


Diana DeGette has represented Colorado’s 1st congressional district in the US House of Representatives since 1997. That’s 26 years.

Cong. Diana DeGette

In Congress, with longevity comes seniority, and with seniority comes appointments and chairmanships on some of Congress’ most powerful committees.

DeGette is the second or third most senior Democrat on the all-encompassing Energy and Commerce Committee and is chair of its Oversight Subcommittee. The Energy and Commerce Committee is one of the top committees in the House.

“We have jurisdiction over everything that is related to the commerce clause of the Constitution, and not just energy policy and commerce, but also all healthcare policy, biomedical research, telecommunications, the internet, consumer protection and even major league sports,” says DeGette.

“Forty percent of the substantive legislation that goes through Congress goes through the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

DeGette is leveraging that seniority and power as she advocates for the people and projects in Colorado.
During her most recent periodic roundtable with community newspapers, attended by the Intermountain Jewish News, she shared updates on the projects she’s working on and the issues that are on her mind. She also shared her frustration with the Republican majority in the House.

Here are DeGette’s words:

Support for Israel

Support for Israel in Congress remains strong, and the support for financial aid for Israel remains strong.

I do think that it has become more politicized than I’ve ever seen it in Congress. Part of this is because of Netanyahu, some of his policies in Israel and his actions to weaken the independence of the judiciary, and the settlements on the West Bank.

You’ve seen some people on the far left and on the far right saying we shouldn’t be supporting Israel. Israel is the bastion, the solid rock of democracy in the Middle East.

I’ve always supported Israel as a sovereign state. I support foreign aid for Israel. I disagree with a lot of Netanyahu’s policies, but that doesn’t mean that I think Israel should not exist as a country. Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorists and enemy countries.

I am a strong supporter of a two-state solution as are most Americans, because I think that we need a homeland for the Palestinians.

It’s a very hard neighborhood right now over there in Israel. There are also now some attempts at another regional peace effort with some of the other players in the Middle East. I think that’s good.

When you see the appropriations bills come out in the foreign relations budget, there will be aid for Israel.

Federal funding for homelessness and the arts

I had a press conference with Warren Village, which is opening its new facility in conjunction with the Women’s Bean Project on East Alameda to augment the center they already have for homeless single parent families. It’s going to have an early childhood education center.

Earlier this spring, I did a groundbreaking with Urban Peak for their new $3 million shelter for homeless youth.

The contract has finally come through for the Stay-Inn Hotel, which I did with the City and County of Denver, helping to get seed money for their project — $2 million.

I had a number of projects that I submitted [to the House Appropriations Committee] under the new Republican majority in the House, and they greatly restricted peoples’ ability to get member-directed funding for their districts.

They said that any projects that involve the arts would not be eligible for [member-directed funding], which appalled me because I think that, particularly in a city like Denver, the arts are an integral part of our vibrant and diverse [culture].

For example, Cleo Parker Robinson is building a huge new building for education, and I had to tell her that I couldn’t even submit her request for funding because it’s not allowed. So I’m hoping that when we [Democrats] regain our majority, we can help with some of those programs.

Only $6 million of the requests that I made was funded by the Appropriations Committee. However, I am working with our two senators to see that all these projects get fully funded in the Senate.

Energy and climate concerns

I had the opportunity to become the ranking Democrat on the Energy, Climate and Grid Security Subcommittee, which means that if we do take the majority, I’ll be the chair of that subcommittee, which is a bill-writing committee and we would have jurisdiction over all of energy policy.

This would pout me in a great position to forward all of the work that I’ve done over the years for combatting the climate crisis, for expediting our move towards renewable energy and for improving the grid.

When President Biden took the White House, I passed a bill that reinstated President Obama’s methane policy. It was one of the most impactful climate bills that we have passed, because methane is a very, very deadly gas, and it has terrible climate implications.

I have been working with the State Dept. and Sen. [John] Kerry, who is now President Biden’s climate advisor. You know, some people never leave . . . they just get new roles.

Sen. Kerry has really worked for many years on climate issues. In the last couple of Congresses, I developed a bill that, if it passes, will take us to 0% carbon emissions by 2050, which is what all the scientists say we need to bend the curve.

I’ve passed some major legislation in a bipartisan way, and I’m trying to take that template and do that for a big climate bill. I don’t have any Republican co-sponsors yet, but I’m continuing my efforts. The good news is that in the House now, almost all the Republicans do realize that climate change is real.


I’ve been the co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus for almost 20 years, and my co-chair is Barbara Lee from California. As we’ve seen since the Dobbs decision, this has really impacted people., not just people in states like Texas or Florida, where abortion is pretty much illegal. It has a spillover effect to Colorado because we have so many people coming to our clinics and it’s impacting Coloradans’ ability to get healthcare services.

We are working hard to pass a bill at the national level to codify Roe v. Wade, but of course the people controlling the Republican Party in Congress are not supportive of this.

I remain the co-chair of the bipartisan Diabetes Caucus, and we’re fighting for equity in diabetes. Right now, we’re working with our colleagues in the Senate to come up with a bill to cap the price of insulin at $35 a bottle.

I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen because the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, and the House has only passed one appropriations bill — the military construction bill. The bill usually passes the House with bipartisan support. It’s not a controversial bill, but this year, the Republicans put all these poison pills, such as abortion restrictions and critical race theory and all these MAGA amendments —into the legislation so that not one Democrat voted for it coming out of the House.

Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Avatar photo

IJN Associate Editor | [email protected]

Leave a Reply