Congress Passes the Debt Deal and Gabrielle Giffords Returns

Giffords makes her return to Washington to vote for the debt deal.

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The American government is one step closer to being done with the debt limit. Congress voted to approve the debt limit legislation 269-161, Talking Points Memo reports. Now that the debt bill has passed the house, Senate will leave little room for error when they vote on the bill Tuesday at noon, The New York Times reports. Democratic votes in Congress were split evenly down the middle with 95 ayes and 95 noes. Republicans voted 174-66. Nancy Pelosi ultimately voted for the bill, but TPM points to "a sign of Pelosi's underlying disapproval of the measure, her top allies, including Reps George Miller (D-CA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) ultimately voted no."

The spotlight of the moment was stolen away from the usual names making headlines over the last month. The moment belonged to Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who made her return to Washington to support the debt limit bill, Slate's Dave Weigel reports:

The votes rolled in almost as an afterthought. When Giffords entered the room, the bill had attracted 213 "ayes," just coming up to the line of passage. Dozens of members turned their heads up at the vote tally projected on the wall of the press gallery, and cheered when a green "Y" went up next to Giffords's name -- her first vote since the shooting.

Giffords has been recovering from a shooting in Tuscon last January. Members were still casting their votes when Nancy Pelosi beckoned her into the room. Democrats, Republicans, visitors, and the press erupted into a standing ovation for 7-10 minutes, tweeted NBC News' Luke Russert. Her return was a well-kept secret. Nancy Pelosi found out about her return yesterday, and said it was a "state secret," Russert tweeted.

"I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy," Giffords said in a statement. A crowd quickly grew around her, with members of both parties crossing the floor to welcome the returning representative.

PBS Newshour has video of her return:

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