Rep. DeGette plans on using new position to investigate the Trump administration’s family separation policy

The Denver congresswoman was named chair of a panel with investigative authority.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette meets with Araceli Velasquez, her family and supporters at Park Hill United Methodist Church and Temple Micah, where she's lived in sanctuary to avoid deportation for nearly 10 months. May 29, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette meets with Araceli Velasquez, her family and supporters at Park Hill United Methodist Church and Temple Micah, where she's lived in sanctuary to avoid deportation for nearly 10 months. May 29, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette has been named Chair of the House and Energy Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel, which gives the congresswoman the authority and power to keep tabs on several federal agencies.

And in her first order of business, DeGette plans on having the panel investigate the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy.

DeGette’s office in a release on Tuesday said the Department of Health and Human Services, which was responsible for caring for undocumented children taken from their families at the border, is one of the agencies now under the purview of DeGette’s investigative authority.

The release said the move gives her “considerable sway to influence future policy decisions related to healthcare and the environment.” The Denver congresswoman is the most senior member of Colorado’s congressional delegation.

In a statement, DeGette said it’s an especially important time to be able to keep a close eye on federal agencies. She noted the panel focus on science-based facts.

“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,” DeGette said in the release.

“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 visited the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas last year to view detention sites including “tender care” facilities for small children. Along with then-U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, she called for faster family reunifications.

The list of agencies whose actions can be investigated by the Oversight and Investigations panel includes some of the most well-known in the country:

  • National Institutes of Health
  • Center for Disease Control
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Communication Commission
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration
  • Department of Energy

Investigating family separations figures to be a priority for Democrats in Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York is requesting information about the so-called “zero tolerance” policy from the Departments of Health and Human Services, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, The Hill reported Monday.

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