A year after suffering a bullet wound to her brain, US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has formally quit Capitol Hill to focus on her recovery.
Republicans and fellow Democrats gave her a standing ovation, joined by members of her family in a House of Representatives where many shed tears.
“Since the tragic events of one year ago, Congresswoman Giffords has become an inspiring symbol of determination and courage to millions of Americans,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told the chamber. “She has brought the word dignity to new heights by her courage.”
The House backed a last bill introduced by Giffords who has made incredible progress since being shot by a lone gunman at close range during a meet-and-greet event in Arizona in January 2011. Six people were killed, including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge.
Her appearance at President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier was also emotional as was a final video message to those who put her in office.
In the announcement, posted on social media like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, she said:
“I don’t remember much from that horrible day but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week. I’m getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”
College dropout Jared Loughner was charged with
first-degree murder, the attempted assassination of Giffords and other crimes stemming from the shooting. He pleaded not guilty and was found mentally unfit to stand trial.