Gabrielle Giffords expected to come back to Congress "full-time," says Dem party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz

In this image from House Television, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., appears on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Washington. Giffords was on the floor for the first time since her shooting earlier this year, attending a vote on the debt standoff compromise
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., appears on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, Aug. 1, 2011
AP Photo/House Television

The head of the Democratic party said Tuesday she expects Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to return to Congress for more than just the dramatic entry to the House chamber she made Monday night.

"We are confident that she is going to come back to help us full time," Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on CBS' "The Early Show."

The Arizona lawmaker is in the midst of a an arduous recovery after she was shot in the head in January during an assassination attempt outside a Tucson grocery store where six were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded.

Wasserman Schultz said the party is helping Giffords get ready for a re-election bid if she chooses to run.

"She is remarkable. Her recovery has been miraculous," Wasserman Schultz said, though she acknowledged that her colleague and close friend "still has a long way to go" to make a full recovery.

"She still has intensive rehabilitation, physical and occupational and speech, and she's working hard. In fact she went right back to Houston, and she'll be back in all her therapies tomorrow," Wasserman Schultz said.

Giffords surprised almost everyone in Congress when she showed up to the House floor for the first time since the shooting Monday night (watch at left) for a high-profile vote to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and cut government spending by as much as $2.4 trillion over the next decade. Giffords voted in favor of the measure, which passed 269-161.

Her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, was seen standing outside the House floor looking in from the side entrance during the vote.

Vice President Joe Biden was on hand for the vote and told reporters he joked with Giffords that they were "both members of the cracked-head club." Biden has had two craniotomies, surgery that requires cutting the skull.

Lawmakers offered Giffords a standing ovation on the House floor when she arrived and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi later said Giffords' name inspires the love and admiration of Americans and called the lawmaker the "personification of courage."

"Thank you, Gabby," Pelosi added. Giffords, her hair short, waved and thanked members as they applauded the sentiment.

CBSNews.com special report: Tragedy in Tucson

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter»

    CBSNews.com Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App