U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette says the "first issue" she'll look into as the new chair of a House investigations subcommittee is the separation of children from their families at the border under the Trump administration.
The Denver Democrat on Tuesday was picked to lead the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
The appointment by committee chair Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey, is subject to approval by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and the Democratic caucus.
In a statement, DeGette noted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "one of the many agencies now under DeGette’s purview" as head of the oversight panel, is "charged with caring for any undocumented children taken from their families at the border."
The statement said that "DeGette herself visited the U.S.-Mexico 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."
DeGette is one of many Democrats in Congress and some Republicans as well who condemned the Trump administration's border policy that led to immigrant families being separated, with more than 2,600 children held separately from their parents. The policy, which came to light in early 2018, was withdrawn in face of an outcry.
Other agencies over which DeGette's subcommittee has oversight authority include 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.
“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 on Tuesday also was named to the Energy and Commerce panel's subcommittees panels on Telecommunications as well as Environment and Climate Change.