Reporting Tim Kephart
WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Flanked by her best friend, South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Representative Gabrielle Giffords left Congress Wednesday morning just more than a year after she was shot in the head during a campaign rally in her home state of Arizona.
Giffords’ recovery has been nothing short of miraculous and she continued to serve her district with the help of her staff throughout the past year.
But, Giffords felt that her district deserved someone who could give all their time and that sparked her decision to resign.
“This past year, my colleagues and staff have worked to make sure my constituents were represented in Congress,” Giffords wrote in her resignation letter. “But if I can’t return, my district deserves to elect a U.S. Representative who can give 100 percent to the job now. For that reason, I have submitted the attached letter of resignation to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz read Giffords’ resignation letter aloud on the House floor late Wednesday morning. Several times throughout, Wasserman Schultz broke down in tears as she read the speech.
“I couldn’t prepare anything this morning because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it together very long,” a tearful Wasserman Schultz said on the House floor. “It is a great treasure of my life to have met Gabby Giffords and serve with her in this body.”
And even with bipartisanship becoming an increasingly dirty word in Washington, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also spoke about Giffords with admiration.
“Gabby’s courage, her strength, and her downright fortitude are an inspiration to all of us and to all Americans,” Representative Cantor said.
For Giffords, she said that even though so much was lost on January 8, 2011 when she was shot; there was also hope and faith that grew stronger.
“This past year, it is what I have often clung to: Hope that our government can represent the best of a nation, not the worst. Faith that Americans working together – in their communities, in our Congress – can succeed without qualification,” Giffords wrote. “Hope and faith that even as we are set back by tragedy or profound disagreement, in the end we come together as Americans to set a course toward greatness.”
Giffords concluded her letter saying, “Everyday, I am working hard. I will recover and will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona and for all Americans.”