House Members and their spouses gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday for a closed-door prayer service to honor the victims of Saturday’s assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his colleagues emerged from the service teary-eyed and tight-lipped as they solemnly filed out of the CVC auditorium.
“The mood is somber,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said after the service.
In brief remarks during the service, Boehner planned to again denounce the attack, while seeking to strike notes of unity and healing.
The “senseless assault claimed the lives of six of our fellow citizens, including that of Gabe Zimmerman, a Congressional staffer who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and died while well and faithfully discharging his duties. It left several more citizens — including Gabby and two of her staff, Ron Barber and Pam Simon — fighting for their lives,” Boehner planned to say, according to prepared remarks distributed by his office.
“Our nation mourns for the victims. It yearns for peace. And it thirsts for answers,” he planned to say.
Hoyer was to read a passage from the New Testament’s 1 Corinthians, while Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was to read from the Old Testament’s Psalm 27.
Reps. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) and Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) were also to read reflections on Giffords during the service.
“I thought it was a very nice service,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who previously served in the House, said afterward. “It is important to hear the words from both parties.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.