Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made a surprise return to the House floor on Monday, six months after she was grievously injured in a shooting in Tucson, Ariz.

Giffords entered the House chambers through a side door while her colleagues were voting on a compromise measure to raise the national debt ceiling. Her arrival prompted applause on the Democratic side of the chamber, which gradually spread through the House.

Giffords, wearing a blue top with her Congressional identification badge attached, waded through a crowd of well-wishers to a nearby voting station. She voted “yes” on the bill, which elicited new applause as a green “Y” appeared next to her name on the House’s back wall.

TV footage showed Giffords, with close-cropped hair, waving and saying “thank you” to acknowledge the applause.

Following the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the microphone and called the congresswoman, who is still recuperating from her injuries, “the personification of courage.”

Giffords was shot in the head during a “Congress on your corner” constituent event in Tucson in January 2011. At least 13 people were wounded, and six people died in the shooting.

Jared Lee Loughner, of Tucson, was captured at the scene and has been charged in the shootings.


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