Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) officially resigned from the House of Representatives on Wednesday. It was an emotional goodbye for the three-term congresswoman, serving Arizona's 8th congressional district.
Giffords returned to the House floor a final time but managed to see her colleagues unanimously approved her bipartisan border security legislation as she stepped down from office. She was accompanied by her longtime friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the Democratic National Chairman, as she entered the building.
Giffords was welcomed with hugs, handshakes and kisses to the cheek from her fellow lawmakers.
Giffords' mother, Gloria Giffords and her husband, former astronaut and retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, watched from the House gallery as her fellow representatives made statements of support and encouragement.
She has brought the word dignity to new heights by her courage, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, the LA Times reported. Congresswoman Giffords' message of bipartisanship and civility is one that all in Washington and in the nation should honor and emulate.
House majority leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he was certain while Giffords is resigning from office, this won't be the last we see of her.
Giffords' final legislation presented to Congress would expand the Department of Homeland Security's ability to investigate ultralight airplanes smuggling drugs from Mexico into the United States. Earlier in her tenure, she presented the bill with bipartisan support, but it was killed in the Senate. Now, Senate leaders have pledged to quickly pass it..
Last year, Giffords was shot in the head by a lone gunman, Jared Loughner, 22, at an event in Tucson, Ariz. Loughner also allegedly killed six people and wounded 12 others during his rampage. Giffords went into a coma after the incident and has been working on her recovery since. Loughner faces 49 federal charges for his alleged assassination attempt. He is currently being held at a prison hospital in Missouri, according to the Tucson Sentinel.
Giffords trends on Twitter
The phrase #GabbyGiffords began trending on Twitter all morning as people took to the Internet to show support for the congresswoman who has come so far.
Heartening to see Gabby Giffords unite a divided congress this morning. Godspeed #gabbygiffords, wrote Karen Finey, MSNBC political analyst.
Giffords was also at the State of the Union address Tuesday night, where she was greeted with a standing ovation as she made her way to her seat. She sat by her husband and first lady Michelle Obama. President Obama even walked over to Giffords, giving her a big hug before making his speech.
The resignation letter
Wasserman Schultz read Giffords' resignation letter, as Rep Jeff Flake held her hand. Giffords has made tremendous progress in her recovery, but she still has some difficulty speaking.
In public service, I found a venue for my pursuit of a strong America, Giffords wrote. I found a way to care for others. And in the past year, I have found a value that is unbreakable even by the most vicious of attacks.
At the end of the letter, House Speaker John Boehner (R.Ohio) wiped tears from his eyes and hugged Giffords.
Every day I am working hard, wrote Giffords in her resignation letter. I will recover and will return and we will work together again for Arizona and for all Americans.