Members of the House of Representatives gathered to listen to a resolution condemning the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and honoring her and all of the victims of the attack.
Members of Congress struggled to control their grief as they paid tribute to their beloved colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, and to the other victims of Saturday’s shooting rampage. Staff members of wounded Congresswoman Giffords were present in the House gallery as the clerk read aloud a bipartisan resolution that recognizes the victims in detail and expresses condolences to their loved ones.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, broke down in tears as he said Congress has yet to absorb the magnitude of the tragedy.
"Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not," said Boehner. "This is a time for the House to lock arms in prayer for the fallen and the wounded and a resolve to carry on a dialogue of democracy. We may not have all the final answers, but we already have the answer that matters most: that we are Americans and we will make it through this difficult period."
The resolution also praised the bravery and quick thinking of the people who tackled the gunman as he tried to reload and took his ammunition away, potentially preventing more casualties. Democratic House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California was one of many lawmakers who said that American democracy was founded on the competition of ideas and that violence has no place in political discourse.
"May this resolution remind us of the urgent need to uphold our democratic values, to treat one another with courtesy and respect, and to act as Congresswoman Giffords has always done and [will] always do, in a manner that reflects the best of American leadership," said Pelosi.
New House Majority leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, also chimed in:
"Saturday’s cowardly crime was more than just an attack on dozens of innocent Americans at a grocery store, it was an attack on the very essence of democracy and representative government, an assault on the open exchange of ideas between legislators and the people to whom they are accountable," said Cantor.
In Arizona, doctors treating the wounded say six patients remain in the hospital. Doctor Peter Rhee said Giffords is in critical condition, but there have not been any negative developments, they are decreasing her sedation and she is responding with increasing spontaneity. Giffords has reacted to simple commands, holding up two fingers and squeezing a hand.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are in Arizona to meet with family members of the victims and attend a memorial service.