Yesterday, for the first time since the shooting in Tuscon, Representative Gabrielle Giffords stepped onto the floor of the House of Representatives. There to cast a vote in favor of the deal to raise the debt ceiling, Arizona Democrat, accompanied by her husband Mark Kelly, entered the chamber to a small round of applause that grew as other House members realized she was there.
Wearing a teal top and short cropped hair, Giffords mouthed ‘thank you’s to her colleages who for the first time in weeks stood together across party lines. Later in interviews, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that she knew Giffords was thinking of coming back to Washington but had advised her to only come if she truly felt up to it. Speaking about seeing Giffords in the chambers, Pelosi said:
“We were just hugging. Girl hugs. It was one of the most thrilling moments for all of us to see this real heroine return to the House and to do so at such a dramatic time.”
Giffords’ relationship with the women in the House is an undeniable bond. She along with Rep. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL have grown close as friends over the years in Congress together. The latter woman said she received a text from Giffords husband Kelly saying the Arizona representative was heading to Washington to cast her vote in person.
In a statement from her office, Giffords 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 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.”
Vice President Joe Biden who greeting Giffords said of her return:
“She’s remarkable. Will matters. She’s the embodiment of a strong, strong, strong woman. Think about what that woman’s been through, and think about her determination.”
Giffords was shot in the head on January 8th in a supermarket parking lot while meeting with constituents. The attack left 6 dead and 13 wounded.