Giffords to step down from Congress - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Giffords to step down from Congress

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Posted: Sunday, January 22, 2012 12:20 pm | Updated: 10:04 am, Mon Jan 23, 2012.

In a videotaped message, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords announced Sunday that she will step down from Congress this week.

In the video posted on and Facebook, she said that she has more work to do on her recovery, and that for the good of Arizona she will step down from office.

Giffords, a third-generation Arizonan who served five years in the state Legislature before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2006, will not seek re-election this fall, according to a news release issued by her office.

But Giffords vowed that her career in public service has not come to an end.

"I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country," she said.

Giffords has been undergoing rehabilitation to recover from a gunshot wound to the head she suffered last year at a Tucson supermarket where she was meeting with constituents. Six people were killed and 12 others in addition to Giffords were injured in the mass shooting.

Jared Lee Loughner, 23, has pleaded not guilty to the shootings.

In the two-minute video, Giffords looked back on her career and urged her colleagues in Congress to continue her practice of working across party lines for the good of the country.

"A lot has happened over the past year," she said. "We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for, we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together."

According to the news release, Giffords will submit her letter of resignation later this week to House Speaker John Boehner and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. The governor will set the date for special primary and general elections to determine who will serve the remainder of Giffords' term.

On the governor's Facebook page, Brewer said she learned of Giffords' decision Sunday morning.

"I am extremely grateful for Gabby's public service to our state and our nation and the difference she had made to our great state. Her grit and determination continue to inspire," Brewer's Facebook post said. "As with all Americans, I will continue to hold Gabby in my thoughts and prayers as she continues her remarkable recovery."

Before she leaves office, Giffords will finish her Congress On Your Corner event that was interrupted by the gunman on Jan. 8, 2011, the release said. In a private gathering in Tucson, she plans to meet with some of the people who were at that event.

As one of her last acts as a member of Congress, Giffords will attend the State of the Union speech Tuesday evening at the Capitol.

"Gabby Giffords' tenacity and generous spirit have always made her the example of what is best in Arizona," Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherny said in a prepared statement. "As she said today, nothing can change what happened last January. But in her time in public life, she has changed Arizona and America for the better. As she continues her work on her recovery, I have no doubt she will also continue to work for and inspire all of us in so many ways in the years to come."

In the past year, Giffords has shown remarkable progress in recovering from her brain injury. In the video released Sunday, she speaks in complete sentences, something she was unable to do just months ago.

As of Sunday, the 41-year-old congresswoman has represented southeastern Arizona in Congress for 1,844 days. Her 9,000-square mile district includes a 114-mile border with Mexico, significant parts of Tucson and Pima County, all of Cochise County and two key military installations: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson and Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista.

According to her office, Giffords has been proud that her district includes Tombstone, the "town too tough to die."

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