Gabrielle Giffords Returns to Congress to Vote on Debt Ceiling Deal
Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman shot in the head by a would-be assassin in January, made a surprise return to the US House of Representatives today to vote on raising the debt ceiling, the Huffington Post reports.
It was an emotional return to the House floor for Giffords, who was greeted with a long standing ovation.
But the real business at hand today was a vote on the bill that will dramatically slash government spending by some $2.1 trillion and raise the debt ceiling until 2013. The deal was hashed out at the eleventh hour– the US would have begun defaulting on its debts tomorrow had lawmakers not worked through the weekend to reach an agreement.
The bill passed by a vote of 269-161. Fully 174 Republicans voted in favor of it, as did Giffords, a Democrat.
“I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington,” a statement from Giffords read. “After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge. I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.”
But critics say the bill will harm the poor and the elderly, who will be on the receiving end of many of the cuts. Most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus voted against it, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus blasted it as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”
The bill does not raise taxes on the rich. It does not close corporate tax loopholes. It will certainly harm the most vulnerable among us, the poor and the elderly.
“We ceded the whole moral ground on billionaires paying their fair share,” lamented Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY).
When asked what she thought about the bill, delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC) said: “I don’t think. I cry.”
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