Representative Carlos Gimenez was elected to the U.S. House in November with 51.7% of the vote to represent District 26 stretching from Key West to west of Kendall.
Mayor of Miami-Dade for nine years after a special election in 2011, Gimenez was a County Commissioner for eight years, Miami City Manager for two years, and Miami’s Fire Chief for nine years.
“I was a firefighter for twenty-five years,” he said in an interview March 1st. “Fighting a fire basically in a heavy Kevlar space suit and twenty minutes with a breathing device is about the most exhausted you’ll be in your life.”
Coming from a House floor vote, Rep. Gimenez said he’s new to Washington but looking into potential legislative issues for the District. “Constituent service is our number one focus and helping the people of Florida 26th. I’m here in Washington now but you’ll be seeing more of me there.”
The Congressman will have three offices in south Florida. Offices in Key West and Florida City are open but the Miami office off Bird Road had a leasing problem. Rep. Gimenez said he hopes that will be resolved soon. The Washington office in the Cannon House Office Building at (202) 225-2778 helps with local issues too.
The Florida City office is staffed by Frank Balzebre. It's located in the Florida City, City Hall and shares a phone number with the Miami District Office, (305) 222-0160.
Besides constituent services, that office concentrates on agriculture, military affairs and small business issues for the Congressman.
“Something that’s really important to me is the agriculture community in south Dade and how we can continue to protect agriculture from unfair foreign competition so we can keep a vibrant community here,” Rep. Gimenez said.
“Homestead is growing, a very unique area of Miami-Dade County,” he continued. “I’m very proud to represent it.”
In the 117th Congress, Rep. Gimenez was assigned to three House committees: Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Homeland Security Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.
Of the latter committee, the Congressman said, “That’s the one that oversees NASA and it’s probably a fun committee. It’s how we in the United States can keep up with science and technology. I’m very interested in the space program. It’s vital to our interests and now that we have a Space Force, it’s vital to our security as well. There was a lot of spinoff technology from the original lunar program.”
Rep. Gimenez feels he’s already experienced partisanship at the Capitol. “There are pieces of legislation, where the Democrats have a slim majority and the Speaker really cracks the whip. Some legislation is completely partisan in nature with zero input from Republican members. It’s not what I envisioned. I’ve crossed over a couple of times but there are some bills I can’t support. There’s probably good reason for the bill and I’d be willing to meet people halfway but unfortunately it’s their way or the highway.”
The Congressman agreed that he is in favor of a path to legal status for immigrants. “I think we need to get undocumented immigrants living in the United States out of the shadows,” he said. “There’s a way to get them a legal or work status.”
“Allow them to work and pay taxes and give them terms for citizenship,” Rep. Gimenez said. “They can get in back of the line of their country of origin and then if their number comes up, it does.”
“I believe we should secure the border to not make the problem worse,” Rep. Gimenez continued. “There should be a path to citizenship for dreamers, those born here that live here. I believe that’s something Americans in the middle can agree on.”
The Congressman’s website cites his support for the Deferred Enforced Departure policy for Venezuelans who reside in the United States. “I favor that policy for Haiti too,” he added. “Haitians here should be treated the same way, because of the earthquake and the political instability. We should afford people from politically unstable regimes some protection if they’re here in the United States, where to deport them to their country of origin could put them in danger.”
Rep. Gimenez was asked about the attention his website devotes to China. He said, “I believe China is our biggest economic threat and is becoming our biggest military threat.
Remember it’s a communist country that would be incredibly dangerous to the freedom of the people of the world. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that China wants to become the dominant power in the world and that runs against our interest.”
“When I went to China three years ago, it was made clear to me if you wanted to do business there a Chinese company had to control 51% of the business,” Rep. Gimenez said. “That’s unfair. Look at online purchasing; there’s nothing to indicate country of origin or manufacture. People should be educated about where the products they buy are coming from.”
Rep. Gimenez sponsored legislation on February 25 that prevents states from suspending or revoking driver’s licenses, teaching licenses and other professional licenses because borrowers are behind on their federal student loan payments.
“It’s just common sense,” Rep. Gimenez said. “If you have a student loan and you need a license to work, it makes no sense to deny you the license that gives you the ability to pay back the student loan.”
Congressman Gimenez confirmed that total student loan forgiveness would cost $1 trillion.
As a final point, Rep. Gimenez does not support increasing the corporate tax rate above 21%.
“Companies need to be incentivized to come back to the United States, not to leave it,” he said. “At the end of the day, when the corporate tax rate was cut it increased revenue and put more people to work who pay taxes.”