Rep. Loretta Sanchez sparks outrage from fellow Democrats with proposal to boot Giffords from Armed Services Committee

Behind closed doors, California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez has proposed removing Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords from the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) until she recovers from injuries sustained after being shot in the head on Jan. 8 in Tucson, The Daily Caller has learned.

The proposal sparked an outrage, according to those in the room — including from those in Sanchez’s own party.

“It’s not appropriate,” Texas Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes told The Daily Caller, adding that there was outrage among some members in the room when Sanchez made the suggestion. “It’s bad for morale during her recovery period.”

Reyes and Rep. Adam Smith of Washington put up most of the fight against Sanchez, and helped squash the idea.

“From a woman who memorialized her cat, you’d think she’d show a little more compassion for a woman shot in the face,” said one GOP aide, referring to Sanchez’s 2010 Christmas card that paid tribute to her late cat, Gretzky.

Sanchez told her Democratic colleagues on the committee that every vote would be crucial, and since there was little indication Giffords would return soon, they should seek a replacement. A spokesman for Sanchez defended her proposal and called the criticism “ludicrous.”

“Gabby has always been one of the most active members on the Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Sanchez wants to make sure HASC Democrats preserve her voice until the congresswoman has returned,” Sanchez’s Press Secretary Caroline Hogan told TheDC. “Rep. Sanchez simply inquired whether a proxy could represent the Congresswoman on the Committee at Rep. Giffords’ request. That way, Gabby’s legislative priorities and seniority would be preserved until her return. Any other interpretation of her question is ludicrous.”

When it comes to committee votes, Giffords’s absence will have little impact since Republicans hold a majority in the House.

“I think the congresswoman forgets what it is like to be in the minority,” said one former Democratic aide. “Minority still loses whether you have one more vote or not.”

A spokesman for Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon told TheDC that he does not support Sanchez’s call to have someone fill in for Giffords.

Giffords was severely injured this month when 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on a crowd during a political event, killing six and injuring many more. Despite being shot in the head at close range, doctors say they are confident she will survive and her colleagues say they expect her to return to her role as a member of Congress.

E-mail Chris Moody and follow him on Twitter

Jonathan Strong contributed to this report