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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Giffords returns to Congress for debt-limit vote


WASHINGTON — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., returned to Congress in dramatic fashion for the first time since being shot in the head in January, appearing almost unannounced in the midst of one of the most contentious votes of the year.

The House chamber erupted in a bipartisan standing ovation as she entered. Giffords, 41, who has been out of sight and hospitalized much of the year, stood unaided to recognize the applause.

She embraced colleagues who flocked to her. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, D-Fla., who is among her closest friends in Congress, was at her side.

“”It was an inspiration, really, to all the members, Democrats and Republicans. We’re very excited about seeing her,”” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.

“”Her presence here … as well as her entire service to Congress, brings honor to this chamber,”” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “”She is the perfect example of bipartisanship,”” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

It was the latest milestone in Giffords‘ recovery. She and 18 others were shot Jan. 8 as she greeted constituents in Tucson. Six people died. Jared Loughner, 22, has been charged but ruled incompetent to stand trial.

Debate over raising the nation’s $14.3-trillion debt ceiling has been bitter, divisive and partisan. Giffords said in a written statement that she was compelled to return to vote on the debt-ceiling legislation Monday.

“”I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy,”” said Giffords, who voted “”aye.”” The bill passed comfortably.

The three-term Democrat was discharged in June from the Houston hospital where she had been rehabilitating. She made a brief visit to her district on Father’s Day weekend, but has otherwise stayed 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.

“”One’s going to space, and one’s trying to get back to earth,”” said Vice President Joe Biden, who said he made a special trip to Congress when he heard that Giffords would be there. “”Think about it. It’s an incredible family.””

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