Two Miami Republicans break rank, vote with Democrats to investigate Jan. 6 riot

U.S Reps. Carlos Gimenez, Maria Elvira Salazar, and Mario Diaz-Balart, from left to right
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Miami U.S. Reps. Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar broke ranks with the rest of Florida’s Republican delegation Wednesday, voting to create a commission to investigate the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Gimenez and Salazar, both freshmen lawmakers, were among 35 Republicans who joined 217 Democrats in support of a bill that creates a mechanism to investigate the day a violent mass of Donald Trump supporters overran the Capitol as Congress prepared to vote to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

The bill, if passed by the Senate, would create an independent 10-member commission that would create a proposal for securing the Capitol and an official accounting of the deadly riot.

Though dozens of Republicans supported the proposal — which passed the House 252-175 — Gimenez and Salazar were the only Republicans from Florida to vote in favor of the bill. They split with the dean of Miami House Republicans, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. (U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster did not vote on the bill.)

By breaking rank, both members defied Trump and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who worked to get them elected. Trump issued a statement Tuesday urging Republicans to vote against what he called a “Democrat trap.”

In a statement, Gimenez — who voted Jan. 7 to overturn the results of the presidential election in two states — said “we need to analyze the facts surrounding the assault on the Capitol building on January 6th. These recommendations from the Commission will produce valuable insight on how to improve our security at the Capitol and what can be done to prevent these events from happening again.”

He tamped down the fears of some members that Democrats will politicize the process, and said he is certain Republicans will have “an equal voice at the table.”

“There is no doubt that January 6th left many questions to be asked of those in charge of the security protocols on Capitol Hill,” he said. “This commission will provide a legitimized mechanism for those questions to be answered.”

Gimenez told CNN Wednesday that “I’ve been able to break ranks with my party on a number of issues, unlike the Democrats who don’t break ranks.”

“Apparently Nancy Pelosi does not like any of her Democrats to break ranks.”

In a statement Thursday, Salazar said she decided to support the legislation after speaking to “dozens” of Capitol police officers, who she says “overwhelmingly support” the commission.

“This Commission will determine if all safety protocols were taken and if security assets were refused before January 6th,” she said. “I voted against the $1.9 billion security plan, because while House Democrats are attempting to throw money at a problem that they do not know how to fix, the bipartisan Commission will gather the facts and assess the Capitol’s security needs.”

This story was updated to include a statement from Salazar.

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