News / USA

    Members of Congress Vow to Come Together After the Shooting of Arizona Lawmaker

    A well-wisher adds an item to a make-shift memorial outside Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' office in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.
    A well-wisher adds an item to a make-shift memorial outside Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' office in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.
    Cindy Saine

    More than 800 members of Congress, their spouses and their chiefs of staff have participated in a rare bipartisan conference call after the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in her home state of Arizona Saturday.

    Giffords is in critical condition and six people are dead after a gunman opened fire in a Tucson parking lot where the congresswoman was meeting with her constituents. The incident has left lawmakers shaken and vowing to work together.

    The House of Representatives has suspended all scheduled business for the coming week, including a contentious vote planned for Wednesday to repeal President Barack Obama's signature domestic accomplishment - health care reform.  The House returns to session on Tuesday and members will pay tribute on the House floor to all those killed and injured in the Arizona shooting rampage.  On Wednesday, members will bring forward a resolution to honor the victims of the shooting and a security briefing will be held for all members of Congress.

    After the conference call, Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut briefed reporters, comparing the atmosphere on Capitol Hill to the feelings lawmakers had after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. "When something like this happens, not unlike what happened in the spontaneous breaking out of people singing ‘God Bless America’ on the steps of the Capitol after September 11th, it is spontaneous, it is sincere, I think people get it," he said.

    Republican House Speaker John Boehner said lawmakers need to rally around their wounded colleague, the families of the fallen, the people of Arizona's 8th District, and to rally around each other.  Larson and other Democrats praised Boehner and the Republican leadership for their sensitivity in postponing all votes in the House for the coming week.

    During the conference call, members and their spouses and staffs were briefed on Gifford's condition. She is in critical condition in the intensive care unit and her doctors are cautiously optimistic.  They were also briefed on security procedures and the new agenda for the coming week.  Representative Larson said there was also an outpouring of admiration and affection for Congresswoman Giffords. "Gabrielle Giffords is a pretty extraordinary member.  And when someone engenders that kind of feeling amongst members, I think there is just such a feeling of cooperation," he said.

    Giffords is a moderate Democrat from a conservative Arizona district, and is well-liked in Congress by members of both parties.  She is a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and of the health care reform law passed by Democrats last year.  During the heated debate on health care, the front door of her Tucson office was shattered in an act of vandalism.

    Prosecutors have filed two first-degree murder counts, two attempted murder counts and one count of attempting to kill a member of Congress against 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner.  Loughner had posted rambling Internet videos accusing the U.S. government of mind control and brain-washing.  Authorities say no clear motive has been established.

    Despite all the calls for more civil discourse and unity from lawmakers, some Democrats pointed to anti-government language from the Tea Party movement and to incendiary rhetoric from conservative leaders such as former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a possible underlying contributor to some violent acts.

    Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois mentioned Palin's combative rallying cry, "Don't retreat; reload," and the crosshairs image she used to signal congressional districts where she wanted Republicans to win.  He said "these sorts of things invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response."

    Republicans rejected suggestions that their side of the aisle has contributed to a more dangerous political environment.

    Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee noted Sunday that the alleged gunman posted on the Internet that he read Marxist and Nazi literature, and said that is not the profile of a typical Tea Party member. Tea Party supporters advocate low taxes and a very limited role for government. Some Republican bloggers and pundits have accused Democrats of trying to reap political gain from the shooting.

    President Obama issued a statement Sunday calling on Americans across the country to observe a national moment of silence at 11 a.m. eastern time (1600 UTC) Monday to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. He said it "will be a time for Americans to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart."

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora