Congresswoman Giffords makes triumphant return in Washington, D.C.

Lawmakers give standing ovation on House floor

CREATED Aug 1, 2011 - UPDATED: Aug 1, 2011

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  • Gabrielle Giffords on the House floor; courtesy CSpan.

Reporter: Claire Doan
Web Producer: Brian Pryor

WASHINGTON (KGUN9-TV) - Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords made a triumphant return Monday afternoon in Washington D.C. in her first public appearance since the Jan. 8 shooting, by appearing before her colleagues on the House floor to vote in favor of legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

A member of the Congresswoman's staff posted on Twitter around 3:51 p.m. Monday that she was at the capitol to support the bill.

Just after 4:05 p.m. Monday, Congresswoman Giffords was seen on several network feeds on the floor shaking hands and voting on the bill.

“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. “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.”

Since her appearance, another tweet appeared on Giffords Twitter account: "The Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight."

Lawmakers gave Giffords a standing ovation on the House floor when she showed up in the chamber.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi marked the historical and touching moment by stating that Giffords went beyond the call of duty and "is the personification of sincerity, of admiration throughout the county."

Representative Trent Franks from Arizona stated the following moments after Giffords' surprise public appearance: "Once a while in this life, we find an example where tragedy is transcended by the human spirit and triump and the grace of God and this is one of those days."

Vice-President Joe Biden also weighed in: "She's remarkable. Will matters. She's the embodiment of a strong, strong, strong woman. Think about what she's been through. And think about her determination." 

Gov. Jan Brewer released a statement in support of Giffords: "Whatever your politics, it was a thrill to see Congresswoman Giffords back on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives ... The road back from a gunman's bullet has been more difficult than any of us can possibly know, but her grit and determination continue to inspire."

 Giffords's husband, Mark Kelly, was in the hallway of the Capitol all smiles during Gifford's return. "It feels good," Kelly said as his wife was on the floor. "Great actually."

Col. Bill Badgers, who was also wounded in the Jan. 8 shooting, told KGUN9 he was shocked but incredibly happy to see Giffords back at work: "Our prayers have been answered that she was there back in her job there, voting on a critical issue."

Giffords was shot and critically injured during a Congress on Your Corner event at a northwest Safeway in Tucson in early January and has been recovering. The mass shooting left six people dead and 13 injured, including Giffords.