WASHINGTON – When President Nancy Pelosi was looking for someone to chair the historic debate over President Trump’s impeachment at the end of 2019, she chose a veteran Democrat who had impressed her with a tough and skillful parliamentary hand: The Representative Diana DeGette from Colorado.
“Sitting here in the speaker’s chair, all I can think of is how serious this debate is for the future of our republic,” she wrote on Twitter at the time. “It is truly an honor to have been asked to chair the House for this important moment in our country’s history.
Now Ms Pelosi has turned to Ms DeGette again, this time as impeachment official to pursue the case against Mr Trump in the Senate. In choosing the Colorado congresswoman, she chose someone with extensive experience in the House and in the president’s chair.
Ms DeGette, first elected in 1996, spent 14 years as the Democrats’ chief whip – the executive responsible for counting the votes, known as the whip in congressional parlance. She often holds the hammer in the House, alternating between the chair and the seat as Members usually do.
On Capitol Hill, she has carved out a place for herself in health policy and as a champion of reproductive rights – a legislative portfolio that dates back to her days as a state legislator in the 1990s, when she drafted the so-called “bubble bill” creating an eight-foot privacy bubble around anyone within 100 feet of a Colorado healthcare facility, including abortion clinics. The bill has survived a Supreme Court challenge.
She is also the author of the 21st Century Cures Act, a 2016 measure intended to accelerate the development of medical products and bring new innovations and advancements to patients who need them faster and more effectively. It was one of the last bills signed by President Barack Obama.
When Democrats regained a majority in the House in 2018, Ms DeGette announced her intention to run for the post of senior whip, which would have made her the No.3 Democrat in the House. But she ultimately withdrew from the race, citing “internal pressure” from Democrats to line up behind Ms Pelosi’s existing leadership triumvirate; Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, Majority Leader; and Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the current whip.
On Tuesday, she said she was “honored” to help with this second impeachment effort.
“Trump has shown that he represents a real danger for this country”, she said written on twitter. “I look forward to doing my part to remove him from office immediately.”