Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made an emotional return to Congress to cast her vote in favor of the bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, only seven months after being shot in the head by a gun-wielding man in a Tuscon market. The bill passed 269 to 161.
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Minority Leader, and a few other members of the Democratic Party knew of her plans to return for the vote, but kept the news private. Pelosi told reporters that she had no words when she and Giffords greeted each other, just “girl hugs.” One can imagine that Giffords’ arrival in the chamber, as she was greeted with standing applause from the members of Congress and emotional cheering from her many colleagues and friends, most of whom have not seen her since the shooting that took place January 8.
Giffords, who has objected to raising the debt limit in the past, said “I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge. …I could not take the chance that my abscence could crash the economy.” She added, in her statement, that this new vote “was substantially different, with the strength of the U.S. economy hanging in the balance.
Even with the vote handily going through with or without her there, what a thrilling moment to see her return to the job after so many months away and with her life clearly in danger for much of it. As her friend and colleague, Rep.Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said, “It always felt like there were so many doubters and skeptics, but never doubt Gabby Giffords’ determination. This is the first of many votes she’s going to pass.”
Hear, hear! And glad to have you back, Gabby.
Added 10:18pm: Watch Gabby Giffords greeting fellow representatives in Congress, the passing of the vote, and Nancy Pelosi congratulating Giffords on her courage.