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Gabrielle Giffords returns to Congress for debt-ceiling vote

August 01, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • In this image from House television, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords appears on the floor of the House of Representatives during a vote on the debt ceiling. She was cheered even as the voting continued. Giffords was on the floor for the first time since her shooting earlier this year, attending a vote on the debt standoff compromise.
In this image from House television, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords appears on… (House Television / Associated…)

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) returned to Congress Monday for the first time since she was critically wounded during a January shooting rampage in her district, casting a vote in favor of the debt-ceiling accord.

Her surprise presence, announced only moments after voting began, sparked a bipartisan ovation just as the House was closing the chapter on one of its more combative periods.

Even as voting continued, cheers erupted in the House chamber as she made her way to the floor. C-SPAN's cameras zoomed in to show her surrounded by colleagues, embracing some and shaking hands with others.

Photos: Gabrielle Giffords

After voting concluded, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made note of Giffords' return, saying there "isn't a name that stirs more admiration" throughout the country than hers.

"Her presence here ... as well as her entire service to Congress brings honor to this chamber," Pelosi said.

"She is the perfect example of bipartisanship," added Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas.

It was the latest milestone in Giffords' recovery from gunshot wounds to the head, sustained in an assassination attempt during a constituent service event in her Tucson district nearly seven months ago.

In a statement, Giffords said she was compelled to return by her disappointment at the debate over the debt ceiling.

"I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy," she said.

The three-term Democrat was discharged in June from the Houston hospital where she had been rehabilitating. She made a brief visit back to her district on Father's Day weekend, but has otherwise been staying with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, outside Houston.

Kelly and the rest of the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour are scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House Tuesday.

Photos: Gabrielle Giffords

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