Tribute to slain staffer of Rep. Giffords languishing in House committee

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is frustrated that her tribute to a slain staffer of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) has been held up in the GOP-led House.

Wasserman Schultz proposed this summer to name a room in the Capitol Visitor Center for Gabe Zimmerman. The community outreach director for Giffords was one of six people killed in the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz.

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“He’s the first staffer ever killed in the line of duty,” Wasserman Schultz, a good friend of Giffords’s, told The Hill.

It’s unclear what is holding up the resolution, which is languishing in committee. Referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on July 21, it has seen little movement since.

“It’s incredibly important to Gabby, to his family, to the members to honor a staff member and make sure that our staff knows how important their service to the country is,” Wasserman Schultz said.

The proposal from the Democratic National Committee chairwoman would designate room HVC 215 of the Capitol Visitor Center as the Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room.

It has 385 co-sponsors, according to Wasserman Schultz. All Arizona members have signed on, including Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

“Hell yes, I’m looking to push it forward,” said Wasserman Schultz when asked if she would like to see more progress. “I don’t control the Transportation Committee.”

A spokesman for the committee would not comment on the status of the resolution, but made it clear that committee members stood behind it.

“The chairman [Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.] and the committee support honoring Mr. Zimmerman’s service as a congressional staffer,” wrote committee communications director Justin Harclerode in an email. 

“The chairman is confident that Mr. Zimmerman will be honored in an appropriate manner and looks forward to working with his colleagues in this effort,” he added.

According to the resolution, Zimmerman was responsible for organizing hundreds of events to allow constituents to meet with Giffords, including planning the Jan. 8 “Congress on your Corner” at which the shooting occurred.

The former social worker with a master’s degree from Arizona State University was engaged to be married at the time of his death at the age of 30.

Zimmerman “was known and respected by countless individuals throughout the 8th congressional district,” the resolution added.

Giffords’s office highlighted the broad bipartisan support for the resolution as the anniversary of the tragedy nears.

“By the time we are recognizing the one-year anniversary of the shooting, it’s the hope and expectation of Gabe’s family and of the bipartisan family of members of Congress and staffers that have been affected by his murder, that we have properly memorialized the only staffer to be slain in the line of duty,” said Pia Carusone, Giffords’s chief of staff.

“The reason for this whole thing is that we felt that naming the room in the CVC will forever serve as a reminder to the staff and members that use it regularly of our broad commitment to public service and civil discourse that Gabe so heroically represented,” she added.