by SARAH ALSGAARD
Providing equal opportunity for Americans to have health care coverage, especially children, is the most important health issue before Congress, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., said.
Perlmutter, 53, has three daughters, Alexis, Abby and Zoey. His youngest daughter, Zoey, has been diagnosed with epilepsy. Perlmutter says her condition has made him a supporter of stem cell research.
During his short time in Congress, Perlmutter has co-sponsored a stem cell research bill that would allow scientists to use otherwise discarded embryos, from in vitro fertilization clinics for researching cures for many diseases, such as epilepsy. He is one of 217 representatives to co-sponsor the bill, which passed on Jan. 11 in the House and on April 11 in the Senate.
“It’s the right bill,” Perlmutter said in an interview. “But it’s personal.”
His constituents in Colorado knew that Perlmutter would support stem cell research from both political and personal points of view, he said.
“I’m the one that has to look at myself in the mirror every morning,” he said. “If I vote on something that goes against my core belief, then I don’t feel very good about it.”
Still, Perlmutter said he considers what his district, supporters and political party want when making a decision about whether to support a bill.
Born and raised in Jefferson County of Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, Perlmutter attended the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1975 and paid for law school by working in construction, according to his official Web site.
From 1995 to 2003, Perlmutter served as a Colorado state senator.
Now, newly elected to the House, Perlmutter has found a seat among peers and become a strong advocate for stem cell research. He is also working for renewable energy, according to his Web site. The National Renewable Energy Lab, the nation’s primary renewable-energy research facility, is in his district.
The congressman will work as chairman of a task force created by the Financial Services Committee to promote energy-efficient financing, said his spokeswoman, Leslie Oliver.
In January, Perlmutter worked with fellow Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., co-chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to help the United States become independent of foreign oil by giving Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs $300 million, according to a press release issued by Perlmutter’s office.
On March 19, Perlmutter co-sponsored a bill by Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., that will create a new veteran’s hospital in Aurora, Colo., part of Perlmutter’s district, at a cost of $523 million, according to Perlmutter’s office.
“We live in a great nation,” Perlmutter said. “My family has all these great opportunities, and I want my kids to continue having good opportunities and my neighbors and the rest of the people living in this country.”