Gabrielle Giffords votes for debt limit deal

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made her first trip back home to Tucson, Ariz., five months after nearly dying when a gunman shot her in the head during a town hall meeting. Barry Peterson reports. CBS

Updated 7:41 p.m. Eastern Time

Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona made a surprise return to Washington Monday to vote in favor of an agreement to raise the debt limit.

"The #Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight," she said in a Tweet.

Gabby Gifford at House vote on Debt
CBS

Lawmakers offered Giffords a standing ovation on the House floor when she showed up for the vote. After it was completed, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi 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.

In an email to the Tucson Weekly, Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Giffords "insisted on participating" in the vote.

Giffords said in a statement that she "closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what's going on in Washington."

Gabby Gifford at House vote on Debt
CBS

"After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge," she said. "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."

Giffords was shot and critically wounded during a constituent event in her home district in January during an attempted assassination attempt and has been working toward recovery since. Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, was seen standing outside the House floor looking in from the side entrance during the vote.

Gabby Gifford at House vote on Debt
CBS

Vice President Joe Biden was on the floor for the vote, and he said afterward that "I told her she's now a member of the cracked head club like me with two craneotomies."

Pelosi just said she knew Giffords was coming but that House members were "shocked." She said Giffords went "above and beyond the call of duty" by coming to vote and that they had time for "girl talk" and "girl hugs."

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a close friend of Giffords, told CBS News that she and Kelly were texting back and forth last night because Giffords wanted to come back if there was a possibility she would be the deciding vote on the bill.

Wasserman Schultz got choked up during the conversation, saying it was an amazing moment and commenting on how much progress Giffords has made -- even though, she said, there is still a long way to go.

CBSNews.com special report: America's debt battle

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