Gabrielle Giffords' return to the House floor for the first time since… (Associated Press )
Reporting from Washington — Despite Gabrielle Giffords' surprising and triumphant return to the House floor to cast a vote in favor of the debt ceiling compromise, it remains unclear whether the wounded congresswoman will return to work on a regular basis or seek reelection.
Giffords' staff on Tuesday disputed a news report that said the Arizona Democrat would run again, saying "no decision" had been made about 2012.
Her appearance Monday at the Capitol, to loud cheers from her Democratic and Republican colleagues, "showed just how hard she has been working at her recovery," said her spokesman, C.J. Karamargin. But, he added, "going to Washington doesn't change the fact that she still has work to do."
He said Giffords wanted to return to her job full time "when she can devote her complete attention to it."
Giffords' husband, Mark E. Kelly, was honored at the White House on Tuesday along with his fellow crewmates of NASA's final space shuttle mission aboard the Endeavour. Giffords did not attend, instead returning to the Houston facility where she has been undergoing rehabilitation after being shot in the head in January. That shooting, at a Tucson event where Giffords was meeting constituents, left six people dead and 13 injured, including the congresswoman.
Karamargin said Giffords had until Arizona's filing deadline next spring to decide whether to run again. Her close friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, said Tuesday that Giffords supporters were laying some groundwork should she go that route.
"We're certainly getting her ready to make sure she can run for reelection at the point that they're ready to decide on that," Wasserman Schultz said on MSNBC.
Republicans in Giffords' Tucson-based district have largely been quiet about the prospect of challenging her. As of the end of June, Giffords had about $800,000 in cash on hand in her congressional campaign account and has benefited from several fundraisers.
Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she had no inkling that Giffords was planning on returning to vote until Kelly called her Sunday night. He told her that Giffords had been following the debate over the debt ceiling and, if the vote was close, was prepared to come to Washington to vote for the compromise plan being crafted by congressional leaders.
By Monday, Wasserman Schultz said, Giffords had decided to show up and vote regardless, reasoning that the measure was probably "the most important bill" the House would address all year.
A cheer went up when Giffords' vote appeared on the electronic tote board in the House, adding a unifying grace note to a debate filled with partisan acrimony.
"She really just filled up all of our hearts, and these were some really frozen hearts. Gabby helped us melt them," Wasserman Schultz said.
After the vote, Giffords posted to her Twitter account: "The Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight."