Rep. Gabby Giffords hands in her resignation letter
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords officially handed in her resignation on Wednesday, earning high praise and applause from her colleagues in the House.
The Arizona Democrat entered House chambers Wednesday morning holding the hand of her friend and colleague, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., while the rest of the House of Representatives gave her a standing ovation.
Giffords announced she was stepping down on Sunday in a video she posted to her congressional website. She personally handed her official resignation letter to an emotional House Speaker John Boehner this morning, after House leaders gave remarks commending Giffords for her service and her fortitude.
Giffords is stepping down to focus on her recovery after being shot in the head in a mass shooting January 8, 2011. The lawmaker was hosting a "Congress at your corner" event in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Arizona that day when a gunman open fired. Six people were killed and 13 were injured, including Giffords.
In her letter of resignation, Giffords said, "From my first steps and first words after being shot to my current physical and speech therapy, I have given all of myself to being albe to walk back onto the House floor this year to represent Arizona's 8th Congressional District. However, today I know that now is not the time. I have more work to do on my recovery before I can again serve in elected office."
Giffords did not speak on the House floor, but a tearful Wasserman Schultz read Giffords' letter aloud.
"Gabby wants her constituents to know... it has been the greatest professional privilege of her life to represent them. Her public service has meant a great deal to her, and this is only a pause in that public service. She will return one day to public service to represent them as she has so capably," Wasserman Schultz said before reading the letter.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called Giffords "the brightest star among us," adding that her "message of bipartisanship and civility is one all in Washington and the nation should emulate."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House was "inspired, hopeful and blessed for the incredible progress Gabby has made in her recovery" and that "her courage, strength and downright fortitude are an inspiration to all Americans."
Earlier this week, Giffords introduced her last bill into Congress -- measure to impose new penalties on smugglers who use small, low-flying aircraft to illegally bring drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Before Giffords gave Boehner her resignation letter, the House passed the measure by a vote of 408 to 0, with 25 members not voting.
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