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Giffords Captures Spotlight as House Passes Debt Deal

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords arrives at the Capitol with her husband, Mark Kelly, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to vote on the debt deal Monday.

The bill now goes to the Senate, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said a vote will be held at noon Tuesday. That chamber is also expected to clear the bill on a bipartisan basis, sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature just hours before the day’s end, when the Treasury Department estimates that the nation would otherwise begin defaulting on its debts.

A Statement of Administration Policy released Monday evening expressed strong support for the bill, saying the president would sign it into law if it reaches his desk.

Pelosi called Giffords’ return “important and symbolic” and said it “brings honor to this chamber.”

“We are all privileged to call her colleague and some of us are very privileged to call her friend,” Pelosi said in the brief floor statement.

Members were “shocked” by the arrival of their “heroine” colleague, Pelosi said.

“I knew that she was coming. But until she actually came, we weren’t sure whether it would happen,” Pelosi told reporters off the floor after the vote.

Giffords’ appearance on the floor was “above and beyond the call of duty to come all this way for this important vote,” Pelosi added.

“We had our girl talk, yes. And girl hugs, and all that,” Pelosi said with a laugh. “But it’s pretty thrilling personally, and officially.”

Asked what it meant to have Giffords rejoin her colleagues after such a grueling debate, Pelosi said, “I think it was appropriate she was here when there was such a bipartisan vote on the floor. And one that meant so much in terms of the full faith and credit of our country to honor our obligations. She honored us with her presence and her vote.”

Giffords was shot in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8 in an attack that killed six people and wounded several others. She was released from a Houston rehabilitation hospital in June to continue her recuperation in the League City, Texas, home of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

Kelly, who commanded the space shuttle Endeavor’s final mission in May, and the members of his crew will meet Tuesday afternoon with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, according to the White House.

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