2 Aug 2011

Giffords returns to house for debt vote

3:47 pm on 2 August 2011

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned to the US House of Representatives on Monday for the first time since she was shot in the head in January, and received a thunderous ovation.

Congresswoman Giffords, a Democrat, returned to vote in favor of a bill to raise the federal debt ceiling.

Ms Giffords has been undergoing intense rehabilitation since the shooting at a political event outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona, on 8 January this year.

Six people were killed, including a federal judge and a girl aged nine. Fourteen others were wounded.

House Speaker John Boehner met Ms Giffords when she got off the elevator on her way in and said ''welcome back''.

Her return caught the chamber by surprise. With two minutes to go in the voting process, she walked in and hugged House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The chamber, which has been the site of acrimonious debate and bitter partisan fighting for weeks, erupted in applause as Ms Giffords entered and voted ''yes'' to the bill.

She mobbed by people from both parties who wanted to shake her hand and offer a hug.

After the vote, Ms Pelosi acknowledged Ms Giffords on the House floor and called her the ''personification of courage''.

Aides kept a close watch as she blew kisses and waved to colleagues and the audience.

Later she sent a tweet: ''The Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight''.