Opinion Brief

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' emotional return to Congress

The Arizona Democrat shocked the nation by walking into the House Monday night. And for a brief moment, a bitterly-divided Congress could agree on something

The video: The House was in the middle of voting on a bill to end the ugly debt-limit fight on Monday when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) slipped in a side door to cast her first vote since she was shot in the head in January. Giffords voted "yes," afterward saying in a statement that she was "deeply disappointed" with the rancorous partisanship in Washington, and had returned to D.C. to make sure her colleagues didn't "crash our economy." Giffords' surprise appearance earned a bipartisan standing ovation on the House floor, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) welcomed the Arizonan's return with a short speech, calling Giffords the "personification of courage." (Watch the video below.) 

The reaction: Thanks to Giffords, this was "one of the most emotional votes in recent memory," says David Weigel at Slate. The vote itself was remarkable, cutting "wildly across ideological lines." But when Giffords showed up, "the joy of the moment overcame all of the implications of this. Politics, briefly, didn't seem too relevant." Indeed, it's somehow fitting that Giffords should be the one to set off this "release of bitterness" in Washington, given the brief "moment of introspection" her shooting prompted, says Katy Steinmetz at TIME. Almost as miraculous as her return, "a Congress known for its petulance and ponderousness was suddenly warm and welcoming." Watch the House cheer Giffords:

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