After working in Washington D.C. to pass the Democrat’s “first 100 hours agenda” in the House of Representatives, Rep. Diana DeGette was back in Denver today to talk with members of the press.
At a luncheon in her offices, the Democrat from the First Congressional District fielded questions dealing with immigration, technology, impeachment, climate change, and Iraq. She also addressed her new appointments to the Energy and Commerce Committee and the U.S. House Page Board.
What’s Happening In D.C.
DeGette acknowledged that in her six terms serving in the Congress, she had never seen such a “quick start” to the session.
She will be continuing her position as Chief Deputy Whip for the Democrats, but said that the new majority gives the job new meaning.
“In the minority you’re just basically trying to hold you caucus together on key votes and really send out messages,” said DeGette. “In the majority our challenge is to of course pass legislation, and so the job of the Chief Deputy Whips is going to be evermore critical in fulfilling that job.”
The Congresswoman also talked about her recent appointment as vice-chair to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which she called one of the “broadest” committees, handling issues like healthcare, environment, consumer protections, and telecommunications. DeGette said she would specifically focus on renewable energy and health insurance for youths in the committee.
The U.S. House Page Board will also be keeping DeGette busy. Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently choose DeGette to “clean up” the page program.
“There’s really nothing wrong with the page program, but what we do need is we need additional reporting layers and we need clear guidelines about the relationship of members to the pages, and the members I think will welcome those clearer guidelines as well,” DeGette said.
Global Climate Change
DeGette mentioned that Speaker Pelosi would be appointing a select committee for taking action against climate change, but noted that the Energy and Commerce Committee would keep legislative jurisdiction over the issue.
“All of my constituents have been joking with me with this snow that we’ve had on the ground since mid-December about where’s the global warming, but in fact it’s not just global warming it’s really long term global climate change,” said DeGette.
The Congresswoman did not agree with President Bush’s calling for a “surge” of extra forces in Iraq. She said that she has routinely supported appropriations to troops in Iraq because she thought it would be “irresponsible” to stop funding when service members didn’t have adequate provisions.
“When the president tried to convince Congress of his plan I was amazed at the stony silence on both sides of the aisle,” said DeGette when talking about her experience at the State of the Union speech. “I am not going to vote for additional appropriations for troop escalations in Iraq in general.”
When asked about what she would recommend for Iraq, DeGette said the U.S. should engage the local population and encourage Iraqis to take over security. She also emphasized that the conduct of the war was really Bush’s job.
“It’s really the president’s job to come up with his plan for how we’re going to stabilize the government and the conflict in Iraq, but Congress does have the check and balance of the appropriations,” said DeGette.