Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to step down

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, right, is embraced by Pam Simon, one of those wounded, during a memorial vigil remembering the victims and survivors of the shooting that wounded Giffords and 12 others and killed six Jan. 8, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Last Updated at 5:41 p.m. ET

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was seriously wounded in a mass shooting in January 2011, announced in a video Sunday that she will step down from office this week.

"I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week," Giffords says in the video, which was posted on her website. "I'm getting better. Every day, my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country."

Giffords speaks into the camera slowly, though clearly, and her words are backed by soft music. The video splices Giffords' remarks with footage of the congresswoman engaging with voters before the tragedy, as well as footage of her recovery.

Giffords was one of 19 people shot on January 8, 2011 when a gunman open fired at a "Congress at your corner" event that Giffords was hosting in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. Six people died, and 13 were injured, including Giffords, who was shot in the head. Alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the shooting.

"Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that," Giffords says in her video. "But I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together. I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover."

In a statement Sunday afternoon President Obama said Giffords embodies "the very best of what public service should be."

"She's universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology - a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union," Mr. Obama said.

"Gabby's cheerful presence will be missed in Washington. But she will remain an inspiration to all whose lives she touched - myself included. And I'm confident that we haven't seen the last of this extraordinary American."

Giffords' recovery has been strong, and last August, she made it back to Washington to vote for the debt limit deal the president struck with Congress. Still, her challengers had questioned whether she was capable of fully returning to work.

Giffords' colleagues today expressed their appreciation for her service.

"I salute Congresswoman Giffords for her service, and for the courage and perseverance she has shown in the face of tragedy. She will be missed," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi praised Giffords as a "true bright star - a dynamic and creative public servant" whose message of bipartisanship and civility should be emulated.

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