WASHINGTON - US Representative Gabrielle Giffords returned to the House floor on Monday for the first time since she was shot in the head in January, receiving a thunderous ovation from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Giffords, a Democrat who has not been to Washington since the shooting at a political event in her home state of Arizona, returned to vote in favor of a bill to raise the US debt ceiling and avoid default.
The congresswoman, who has been undergoing intense rehabilitation and has kept out of the public eye, caught the chamber by surprise.
With two minutes to go in the 15-minute vote, Giffords walked in and hugged House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. The chamber, which has been the site of acrimonious debate and bitter partisan fighting for weeks, erupted in applause as Giffords entered then voted "yes" to the bill.