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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs