Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who also participated in Monday’s moment of silence, led the crowd in prayer afterward, asking God to “help us move from this dark place to a place of sunshine.”
The interfaith prayer service held later Monday brought many to tears. Gavi Begtrup, a Giffords policy adviser, spoke about Zimmerman and Giffords’ contributions as public servants. Staffers bowed their heads in prayer — at one point joining hands — as the names of those injured or killed were read.
But even as the Congressional community continues to struggle with what occurred over the weekend, Members and aides acknowledged that Congress will begin returning to normal in the coming days.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Monday he expected the House would resume its work after the Martin Luther King recess next week. “I don’t think that will change,” he said, adding that the tragedy would not stop Republicans from bringing up the health care repeal bill. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) immediately announced that GOP leaders would postpone a scheduled vote on the repeal that had been set for Wednesday.
“The leadership made the right decision to delay action as we mourn the loss of the people who lost their lives,” Upton said. “We’ll get back to business next week.”
Democrats agreed that Congress must get back to work in the near term.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said “Speaker Boehner has done it just right. You need a full week to reflect … [but] nobody expects the House of Representatives to take more time than a full week. They expect us to do the people’s business.”
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) agreed, saying: “We depend on John Boehner as Speaker of the House and Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the minority to be able to determine the timeline, but I say that I would support it as soon as possible.”
Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said that “further decisions on the legislative schedule will be announced at a later date, but this institution has an obligation to move forward in doing the business of the people at the appropriate time.”
Giffords, 40, remains at Tucson University Medical Center. Her doctors said Monday that they continue to be encouraged by her progress.
UMC chief neurosurgeon Michael Lemole told reporters there had been little change in the Arizona Democrat’s condition, but described it as a positive sign.
“At this phase in the game, no change is good. And we have no change,” he said.
But Lemole cautioned that it will take several days to know whether Giffords is out of the woods, and she is likely to remain in the hospital for several more weeks. Giffords was shot point blank in the head in what’s been described as a “through and through” wound, which includes an entry point and an exit point.