WASHINGTON, August 1, 2011 (AFP) â€“ U.S. lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured in a shooting rampage in January, made a dramatic return to the House of Representatives for the first time on Monday to vote for a major austerity bill.
The House chamber broke into a sudden standing ovation in the midst of voting as word spread that Giffords had entered. Fellow lawmakers embraced her as Giffords blew kisses and could be seen saying, â€œThank you, thank you.â€
Giffords, while thin and missing her once long locks of blonde hair, appeared to be in surprisingly good health, moving through the chamber with minimal assistance from an aide.
Giffordsâ€™ office announced her appearance on Twitter, with a message appearing after voting began: â€œGabrielle has returned to Washington to support a bipartisan bill to prevent economic crisis.â€
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the top House lawmaker of President Barack Obamaâ€™s Democratic Party, hailed her party colleague as a â€œpersonification of courageâ€ and said that that no one had â€œmore wishes for our daughters to be like her than Gabby Giffords.â€
A gunman shot Giffords in the head on January 8 as she met constituents at a public forum at a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona. She has needed major rehabilitation to regain movement on the right side of her body.
Six people were killed in the rampage, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.
Giffords, a centrist Democrat, supported the package that will authorize at least $2.1 trillion in spending cuts and raise the legal limit on the US debt in hopes of avoiding a default due in one day. â–