Gabrielle Giffords Aide Tribute Stalled Despite Bipartisan Support
WASHINGTON -- One would be hard pressed to find any bill that could sail through Congress right now. But one measure with all the right ingredients for quick passage -- overwhelming support, no costs and a chance to honor the victim of a tragedy that hits close to home for everyone on Capitol Hill -- has hit a wall for no apparent reason.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has for months been pushing a resolution to name a room in the Capitol complex after Gabe Zimmerman, the congressional aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) who was killed, along with five others, in the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson that wounded Giffords. The measure has more than 350 cosponsors, an almost unheard of level of support in an otherwise hyper-partisan environment, and wouldn't cost taxpayers anything, save the pocket change necessary to hang a nameplate outside a room.
Yet the bill is not moving -- and nobody, including the people in charge of setting the schedule for House votes, seems to know why.
A spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) directed questions about the issue to the House Speaker's office. A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had no comment.
In the meantime, the resolution is just gathering dust in a House committee made up of members who are cosponsors of it.
"The legislation to honor Gabe Zimmerman has the overwhelming support of 366 bipartisan co-sponsors, with more signing on every week," said Jonathan Beeton, communications director for Wasserman Schultz. "Clearly members from both sides of the aisle want to join with Congresswoman Giffords in honoring the life of one of her own Congressional staff who died while fostering one of the basic principles of democracy, the right of an individual to petition their own government."
Giffords' chief of staff Pia Carusone underscored the significance of honoring Zimmerman, who was 30, as the first congressional aide killed in the line of duty. He was Giffords' community outreach director.
"Gabe organized Gabby's first Congress on Your Corner constituent event in 2007 and the one on January 8, where he died, doing his job. His service to community and country is representative of the commitment of thousands of staff over hundreds of years who help members fulfill the fundamental constitutional responsibility of office," Carusone said.
"He sacrificed his life for the country and Congress he served - he should and shall be memorialized at the Capitol."