Congressman Carnahan was elected to the United States House of Representatives on November 2, 2004, to represent the citizens of Missouri's 3rd Congressional District. The district includes parts of St. Louis City and County, as well as all of Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve Counties.
In the House of Representatives, Congressman Carnahan serves on the Foreign Affairs, Transportation & Infrastructure and Science & Technology Committees. He is a member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittees on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight and the Middle East and Central Asia, the Transportation Subcommittees on Waterways and Environment and Aviation, as well as the Science Subcommittee on Research and Science Education.
Carnahan also holds leadership positions in the House, as he serves as a Senior Majority Whip as well as the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight.
While in Congress, Carnahan has sought to address the methamphetamine issue with a comprehensive strategy which includes research, education, prevention, remediation and prosecution because he understands that abuse harms much more than the individual abuser. He joined the Congressional Meth Caucus, and cosponsored two key pieces of legislation that passed the House: H.R. 798, The Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act; and H.R. 3889, The Methamphetamine Epidemic Elimination Act. These pieces of legislation require research and guidelines for clean up and remediation of meth labs and take steps to eliminate the sources of meth in the United States.
Carnahan has also become a leader in energy policy as an advocate for alternative fuels and renewable energy, as well as energy efficiency and American energy independence. In August 2006, he introduced H.R. 5874, the Consumer Relief and Investment in Our Future Act, which would force big oil companies to pay up after recording multiple quarters of record profits. $9 billion in tax credits given to oil companies in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 would be repealed; this money is authorized for the Advanced Technology Program in order to spur long term development of high tech alternative energy. Also, a windfall profits tax for that period on oil companies benefiting from excessive profits would be imposed. The legislation would have oil companies make up the difference in a Federal Highway Excise Tax cut that would benefit consumers and maintain road construction projects. The bill also requires oil companies to pay taxes on oil drilled on federal land and water; it directs the revenue to research and development programs for alternative and renewable fuels.
Furthermore, Carnahan introduced and helped pass through the House H.R. 1728, the French Colonial Heritage National Historic Site Study Act of 2005, to study parts of Ste Genevieve, MO to determine whether they can be made a part of the National Park System. Carnahan also advocated for historic preservation tax credits by introducing the Historic Rehabilitation Enhancement Act of 2005, to ensure that state historic preservation tax credits are not counted as federal income and taxed by the Internal Revenue Service. This change would enhance the transferable nature of Missouri's state credits.
Prior to serving in Congress, Carnahan was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, and served as a member of the House leadership. He previously worked in the healthcare field, and was in private law practice, including serving on the legal aide panel representing low-income clients. In the Missouri House of Representatives, Carnahan was instrumental in passing the Women's Health Initiative, resolving the public school funding crisis, and fighting for the reauthorization of the State's Children's Health Insurance program (CHIPS). He also fought to preserve funding for Medicaid and historic preservation tax credits, helping to revitalize the Greater St. Louis region.
Congressman Carnahan has been a member of many civic and community organizations including: St. Louis Ambassadors; United Way of Greater St. Louis, Government Relations Committee; St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association (RCGA), Public Policy Committee; and FOCUS Leadership St. Louis, Class of 1997-98. He has also served as a member of Metropolis St. Louis; State Historical Society of Missouri; Landmarks Association of St. Louis; Compton Heights Neighborhood Association; Missouri Bar, Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education and Health Care Law Committee, Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis; Boy Scouts, Eagle Scout recipient; and Friends of Tower Grove Park, Missouri Botanical Gardens and DeMenil Mansion.
Carnahan and his wife Debra, a judge in the St. Louis Municipal Court, have two sons, Austin (17) and Andrew (13). The family attends Lafayette Park United Methodist Church.