In a moment many feared we'd never see, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to the House of Representatives this afternoon to cast her vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling. Giffords received a standing ovation and was greeted by both Democratic and Republican colleagues. She's voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2009 and 2010, but said in a statement that this time was different:
"I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what's going on in Washington ... After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge. 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."
Giffords was accompanied by her husband, Mark Kelly, but walked on her own. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she decided to return for the vote at the last minute, and arrived in Washington around 4:30 p.m. Wasserman Schultz added, "Everybody's heart was so grizzled and hardened," but when Giffords walked into the room, "everybody's heart just melted."