House bids goodbye to Giffords
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wounded more than a year ago in a shooting rampage that captivated the nation, officially resigned from Congress this morning.
The Arizona Democrat handed her letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner, as her colleagues paid tribute to her as her husband, Mark Kelly, watched from the visitors’ gallery.
She got an emotional send-off from her colleagues, many of whom cried and gave her a standing ovation.
Giffords also sent a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, which will trigger a special election to fill the remainder of her term. Giffords on Tuesday night attended President Obama’s State of the Union Address in the House chamber.
STORY: Giffords gets standing ovation
The non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report said Giffords’ resignation will set up a competitive special election and gives the Republican Party an opportunity to pick up a House seat. The primary is expected to be held in April, followed by a general election in June.
In her letter, Giffords echoes some of the words she spoke in the moving video posted Sunday on YouTube that informed her constituents of her decision to focus on her recovery.
«Everyday, I am working hard,» Giffords wrote. «I will recover and will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona and for all Americans.»
Giffords again expressed her thanks for those who rallied behind her since Jan. 8, 2011 when she was shot in the head at point-blank range while meeting with her constituents at a Tucson grocery story. She thanked her House colleagues and her staff for serving Arizona’s 8th District in her absence.
«If I can’t return, my district deserves to elect a U.S. Representative who can give 100% to the job now,» she wrote.
«Amid all that was lost on January 8th, there was also hope and faith,» Giffords continued. «This past year, it is what I have often clung to: Hope that our government can reperesent the best of a nation, not the worst.»
The House paused from its regular business today to salute Giffords, who was first elected in 2006. Lawmakers named a border security bill after her and passed it on a 408-0 vote — a rare show of bipartisanship in the deeply divided House.
Giffords’ resignation letter was read aloud by her friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
«Gabby, we love you,» said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Congress and the nation «are inspired, hopeful, and blessed for the incredible progress that Gabby has made in her recovery. Gabby’s courage, strength and her downright fortitude are an inspiration to all of us.»
Cantor also praised Giffords’ chief of staff, Pia Carusone, who has kept the congressional office humming since the shooting.