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Monday, August 1, 2011

House Undivided

Nearly seven months after being brutally shot in an assassination attempt, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned the floor of the United States House of representatives to vote "aye" on the bi-partisan agreement to raise the nation's debt limit. The seeming unwillingness of the political parties to come together and the bitter vitriol surrounding the debt limit debate has diminished the confidence of the American people in the political process in Washington D.C., perhaps to an all-time low.

By contrast, Rep. Giffords (D-AZ) has been emblematic of compromise and bi-partisan pragmatism since first being elected to the House in 2006. Since beginning her tenure, she has been praised by her colleagues and her constituents alike for her willingness to reach across party lines to pass meaningful legislation. So it was only fitting that she did for a few minutes today what nobody else has been able to do in the 112th Congress of the United States of America: unite the House of Representatives.

A steady applause grew throughout the House chamber as Representatives, staff, press, and members of the public seated in the overhead gallery realized that the Congresswoman had entered through the East doors to cast her vote. Rep. Giffords was assisted by an aid as she voted and was surrounded by House members and greeted by a minute long standing ovation after casting her vote. She smiled as she gave a brief wave before leaving the chamber after a few remarks from House Minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schulze (D-FL).

Gabrielle Giffords said in a statement today that she has watched very closely as the debate surrounding the debt ceiling has unfolded and she has been deeply disappointed with what has been going on in Washington. She also added "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." As the Congresswoman continues on her brave journey towards recovery, let us hope that her colleagues will head her words and follow her example to work together to solve the nation's problems in a constructive manner. Although compromise and agreement are toxic words in Washington these days, Gabrielle Giffords reminded us today that they don't have to be. And in a time when our nation faces uncertainty and growing problems of unprecedented complexity, Congresswoman Giffords proved to us once again that if we want to succeed as a nation, compromise is the only pathway to success.

Gabby Giffords might never be exactly the same as she was before the tragic shooting in her hometown of Tucson, AZ.  But through her bravery and sacrifice she reminds us that each and every one of us is part of something that is bigger and more important than ourselves. Through her unwavering courage she proves to us that the flame that is the American spirit still burns as bright as ever. And so long as we are privileged to have a people like her serve our nation that flame will never be extinguished.  So thank you Congresswoman. Thank you for not only fighting for your own life but for fighting for all of ours too. Thank you for your courage, grit and determination to rise again and serve your country with such grace, civility and honor. Your commitment to public service is the embodiment of the American spirit.

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