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House Names Room After Slain Giffords Aide Gabe Zimmerman

Nearly one year after an aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was slain in a shooting at her constituent event in Tucson, Ariz., a House hearing room will honor his memory.

The House today voted 419-0 to name Room HVC 215 the Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room.

The 30-year-old community outreach director for the Arizona Democrat was one of six people killed in January when Jared Loughner opened fire at a “Congress on Your Corner” event.

“This resolution designating the Gabriel Zimmerman meeting room is not put forward to mark Gabe’s death but rather to recognize his commitment in life to making others’ lives better,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said during floor debate Wednesday. “With this vote, we honor [his] life and also recognize all Congressional staff.”

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and a close friend of Giffords, Wasserman Schultz is the lead sponsor of the resolution. Though final passage was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, it was rescheduled for today to ensure that Wasserman Schultz was able to attend the vote, her spokeswoman Mara Sloan said.

“We also had asked [Majority Leader Eric Cantor] to delay the debate, originally from Tuesday, to Wednesday, so that more [Arizona] Members could be present,” Sloan added.

The text of the resolution describes the scope of Zimmerman’s Congressional career that began when he was hired in January 2007 as Giffords’ constituent services supervisor. After his promotion, he “organized hundreds of events to allow constituents to meet with Congresswoman Giffords,” including the event that ultimately led to his death.

“Gabriel Zimmerman was the first Congressional staffer in history to be murdered in the performance of his official duties,” the resolution reads.

Members from both parties, including many from the Arizona delegation, spoke Wednesday of Zimmerman’s love of his constituents and how deeply respected he was among his colleagues.

“I … was with those assembled at the hospital … when it was confirmed that Gabe Zimmerman had lost his life,” Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said. “I wish that all within the sound of my voice today could feel in that room and that day and the days that followed the love that was felt for this good man, for the work he did for our colleague, for how much he is loved throughout the state of Arizona.”

It has taken several months for the resolution, first introduced in July, to reach the House floor. With over 400 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, the bipartisan measure with no significant price tag should have advanced quickly, but it has been stalled in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

There has been some speculation that the lag time between introduction and floor consideration was because of the GOP leadership’s interest in trying to hammer out its own memorial to Zimmerman. But those plans appear to have been abandoned in favor of fast-tracking the Wasserman Schultz resolution.

“I think it is fitting and appropriate to honor Gabe Zimmerman with a permanent memorial in the United States Capitol,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday. “Let us honor Gabe’s memory in this institution.”

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