Rep. Gabby Giffords casts last vote in Congress

As so much of her story has been, Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ last day in Congress was an emotional one, The L.A. Times reports. Everyone from her closest friend in the chamber, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to current Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sang her praises. Pelosi even called her “the brightest star Congress has ever seen.”

Perhaps even more importantly, her colleagues in the House paid her the tribute of unanimously passing a border security bill she introduced with fellow Arizonan Rep. Jeff Flake, a Republican. The bill — the last on which Giffords will vote — would give the Homeland Security Department greater ability to go after planes suspected of smuggling drugs from Mexico to the United States. The House has passed the bill before, but it stalled in the Senate. This time, the upper chamber promises to give it speedy treatment.

Sadly, Giffords’ Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., has at times been politicized, falsely linked with a rise in “violent” partisan rhetoric. Today, though, Giffords reminded her congressional peers that the tragedy she suffered was and still is an invitation to greater trust in each other.

“Amid all that was lost on Jan. 8, there was also hope and faith,” Giffords wrote in her resignation letter. “Hope and faith that even as we are set back by tragedy or profound disagreement, in the end, we come together as Americans to set a course toward greatness.”

Coming together does require civility — but it also requires forgiveness and the abandonment of hypocrisy. If we let it, Gabby Giffords’ remarkable recovery story can teach us that a relentless drive to bring out the best in ourselves must precede any calls for others to bring out the best in themselves.

Update (AP): Highlights from this morning’s session, including tributes from Cantor and Pelosi and Giffords formally tendering her resignation to Boehner, via Fox News.

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