Representative Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head during a shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona, last year, said Sunday she will step down this week from Congress to focus on her recovery.
According to The Telegraph, in a video message to supporters, released just over a year after she was shot through the head, Ms Giffords, 41, said: “I have more work to do on my recovery. So to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week”.
“I am getting better every day,” she said in the two-minute clip. “My spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great 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. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover.”
Giffords’ office said the congresswoman would submit her letter of resignation this week to House Speaker John Boehner and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, reports Reuters.
On Jan. 8, 2011, Ms. Giffords, who is in her third term, was one of 19 people shot at a meet-and-greet political event outside a grocery store in her hometown of Tucson. Six people died, including a 9-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green, and a federal judge, John M. Roll.
The shooting suspect, Jared L. Loughner, a 22-year-old college dropout, has been charged with numerous federal counts, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, The New York Times reports.
She has spent the past year receiving treatment at a specialist centre in Texas.
Ms. Giffords, who will officially resign to Congressional officials later this week, will also attend President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night in the House chamber.
On Sunday, Mr. Obama released a statement that read in part: “Gabby Giffords embodies the very best of what public service should be. She’s universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology — a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union.”
Obama said Giffords represents the very best of what public service should be and that her “cheerful presence” would be missed in Washington.
“She’s universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology – a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union,” Obama said in a statement.
“We know it is with the best interests of her constituents in mind that Gabby has made the tough decision to step down from Congress,” Obama said.
John A. Boehner, a Republican who became House speaker only days before the shooting, said in a statement on Sunday: “I salute Representative Giffords for her service, and for the courage and perseverance she has shown in the face of tragedy. She will be missed.”
Ms Giffords was first elected to the US House of Representatives in November 2006. Before quitting she is expected to finish the “Congress On Your Corner” event that was disrupted by Loughner’s rampage.
It has been speculated that Mark Kelly, Ms Giffords’s husband and a recently retired astronaut, may run to take the seat. He said in July that a career in politics was “not the plan right now” but added: “I’ve learned over a lot of years that you should never rule anything out.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hailed Giffords as a “bright star” and “a dynamic and creative public servant,” in a statement released on Sunday. “Gabby’s message of bipartisanship and civility is one that all in Washington and the nation should honor and emulate.
“She will be missed in the House of Representatives, but her legacy in the Congress and her leadership for our nation will certainly continue,” she added.