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Gabrielle Giffords returns to the House floor -- and a standing ovation

August 2, 2011 |  3:12 am

gabrielle giffords gabby giffords 8-1-11 CSPAN

An emotional and unexpected moment Monday evening as Arizona's Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to the House floor for the first time since her near-fatal shooting at a Tucson shopping center in January.

Her arrival prompted a bipartisan standing ovation and cheers from the gallery to acknowledge the almost seven-month rehabilitation of the three-term Democrat. In a statement released by her office, Giffords said:

I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.

I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.

Her husband Mark Kelly and the rest of the Endeavour space shuttle crew are scheduled to meet President Obama at the White House later today.

Twice before, in February of 2010 and December of 2009, Giffords voted against raising the debt limit. This time she voted in the affirmative, one of 95 Democrats to join 174 Republicans in the 269-161 tally.

Gabrielle Giffords taking the oath with Speaker John Boehner 1-5-11

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: C-SPAN (Giffords acknowledges the standing ovation on the House floor when she returned for the first time on Aug. 1); Susan Walsh / Associated Press (Giffords takes the oath from Speaker John Boehner, Jan. 5, shortly before the assassination attempt).

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