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Hugs, kisses & a standing O

Gabrielle Giffords returns to D.C. refusing to miss the vote

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Gabrielle Giffords rocked the debt ceiling vote — just by showing up.

The congresswoman returned to the House floor for the first time since getting shot in January to cast a yes vote for the agreement that raises the debt ceiling. The agreement passed, but it was Giffords' surprise appearance that stole the show — and shifted the headlines from the embarrassing fact that the U.S. needed this last-minute compromise deal to avoid default.

Giffords received a standing ovation from her fellow lawmakers when she showed up in the House chamber. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi gave a short speech on what Giffords' courage means to Americans. The congresswoman — who rehabbed in Houston at TIRR and is married to Houston-area astronaut Mark Kelly — repaid the love by going around the floor and delivering hugs and kisses.

But make no mistake, Giffords wanted everyone to know that this wasn't some sentimental return. She was there on a mission.

Giffords' spokesman C.J. Karamargin told the Tucson Weekly that Giffords "insisted" on participating in the vote. 

"Congresswoman Giffords has been following this debate closely over the past two weeks," Karamargin wrote in an email to the Tucson paper. "Like the vast majority of Americans, she is extremely disappointed at Washington’s inability to confront the debt ceiling issue in a timely and thoughtful manner."

Even after her in-patient stay at TIRR ended, Giffords has been in Houston rehabbing and living with Kelly. And now traveling to Washington D.C.

Pelosi told CBS News that she knew Giffords planned to attend the vote, but that most of the House members hadn't been told and were shocked. "She went above and beyond the call of duty," Pelosi said of Giffords' return in an on-camera interview.

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