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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) made an unexpected return to Congress on Monday to vote on the debt ceiling bill. Seven months after being shot in the head in Tucson, Arizona, Giffords recovery has astounded doctors.
House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) introduced Giffords to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Colleagues shook Giffords hand and welcomed her back to her job for the first time since she was critically injured during a political event that left six dead.
“I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington,” Giffords said, in a statement from her office. “After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.
I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.”
Giffords voted in favor of raising the debt ceiling which passed through House by a margin of 269 to 161. Her office, in a statement, noted that in December 2009 and again in February 2010, she had objected to raising the nation’s debt limit. This vote, the statement added, “was substantially different, with the strength of the U.S. economy hanging in the balance.”
After the vote was cast, Giffords received multiple additional rounds of applause, as Pelosi called her “the personification of courage.”
“Her presence here in the chamber as well as her service throughout her career in Congress, brings honor to this chamber,” Pelosi said. “Thank you, Gabby.”
Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he found out that Giffords would show for the vote when he saw her, hinting that Pelosi and others in the know played it close to the vest. “I just said, ‘I love you, glad to have you back, great to see you,’” he said. “I only found out when I saw her. [It was] a little emotional.”
Jared Lee Loughner, of Tucson, has been charged in the shootings that injured Giffords and others.