Miami Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar was sworn in Tuesday afternoon and a few hours later cast her first vote against a resolution that called for President Donald Trump’s removal from office through the 25th Amendment.
Salazar, along with Miami Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Gimenez, voted against the mostly symbolic resolution from Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin that urges Vice President Mike Pence to convene the Cabinet and remove Trump from office. On Tuesday evening, Pence sent a letter to the House indicating that he would not invoke the 25th Amendment.
The resolution passed by a near party-line vote of 223-205, with all but one Republican present voting against the resolution and all Democrats present voting in favor of the resolution. South Florida Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Frederica Wilson, Alcee Hastings and Ted Deutch voted for the resolution. Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the only Republican to vote yes.
Raskin’s resolution calls on Pence “to immediately use his powers under section 4 of the 25th Amendment to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments in the Cabinet to declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties of his office.”
In a statement released after the vote, Gimenez said the resolution was “useless and highlighting an intent to plunge this Congress into petulant political bickering.”
“I cannot earnestly support a non-binding resolution that would have no effect in getting us closer to the truth or help heal our nation,” Gimenez said.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of the vote, Pence wrote “the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation.”
“Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent,” Pence wrote.
The resolution comes a day before the House of Representatives is expected to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time regarding his role in last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol that resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer, who was struck in the head by a fire extinguisher by Trump supporters and died from his injuries. Trump would become the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
Trump on Tuesday defended his speech, saying his remarks were “totally appropriate.” A number of House Republicans have publicly said they plan to impeach Trump on Wednesday, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican from Kentucky, has also said Trump committed impeachable offenses, according to multiple reports, and is happy that Democrats are moving forward with impeachment during Trump’s final days in office.
Salazar’s first vote in Congress came nine days later than her colleagues’ after she was admitted to the hospital with a heart arrhythmia on Dec. 23. During her hospital stay, she also tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the beginning of Congress on Jan. 3.
Salazar hasn’t explained why she waited until Dec. 31 to announce her positive test and hasn’t said if she supported GOP attempts to object to Arizona and Pennsylvania’s certified Electoral College votes, which Congress was attempting to debate on Jan. 6 when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol.
Diaz-Balart and Gimenez voted in favor of both Electoral College challenges. Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott was the only member of Senate leadership to challenge Electoral College votes when he objected to Pennsylvania’s votes, while Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted to uphold the Electoral College votes in both states.
Tuesday’s resolution also includes a mandate that all members of the House of Representatives must wear masks on the House floor or else they will be subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and a $2,500 fine for subsequent offenses.
At least three Democrats in Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after spending hours in a secure room with Republicans who refused to wear masks during last Wednesday’s riot.
Republicans have countered that Democrats, notably Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore, have voted from the House floor within 14 days of a positive COVID test. Miami Rep. Frederica Wilson has also voted from a special enclosure for lawmakers who are quarantining, but she hasn’t said if she’s tested positive for COVID.
“It is hypocritical to fine members for not wearing a mask but not for breaking quarantine or for being on the floor days after a positive COVID test, all contrary to CDC guidelines,” Diaz-Balart’s chief of staff, Cesar Gonzalez, said in an email.