Washington Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona announced Sunday she intends to resign from Congress this week to concentrate on recovering from wounds suffered in an assassination attempt a little more than a year ago that shook the country.
“I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice,” the Democratic lawmaker said on a video posted without prior notice on her Facebook page.
“I’m getting better. Every day my spirit is high,” she said. “I have more work to do on my recovery. So to do what’s best for Arizona, I will step down this week.”
Giffords was shot in the head and grievously wounded last January as she was meeting with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz. Her progress had seemed remarkable, to the point that she was able to walk dramatically into the House chamber last August to cast a vote.
Her shooting prompted an agonizing national debate about super-charged rhetoric in political campaigns, although the man charged in the shooting later turned out to be mentally ill.
In Washington, members of Congress were told to pay more attention to their physical security. Legislation was introduced to ban high-capacity ammunition clips, although it never advanced.
Under state law, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer must call a special election to fill out the remainder of Giffords’ term, which ends at the end of 2012.
President Barack Obama on Sunday called Giffords “the very best of what public service should be.”
“Gabby’s cheerful presence will be missed in Washington,” Obama said. “But she will remain an inspiration to all whose lives she touched — myself included. And I’m confident that we haven’t seen the last of this extraordinary American.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he saluted Giffords “for her service and for the courage and perseverance she has shown in the face of tragedy. She will be missed.”