News / USA

Shaken Lawmakers Gather on Capitol Steps After Arizona Shooting

Members of Congress and staff members observe a moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and other shooting victims, Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, on the East Steps of the Capitol in Washington
Members of Congress and staff members observe a moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and other shooting victims, Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, on the East Steps of the Capitol in Washington
Cindy Saine

A number of lawmakers and as many as 500 congressional staff members gathered on the east front steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday to hold a moment of silence for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and all of the other victims of Saturday’s shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that left 6 people dead.  Giffords is still in critical condition and the suspected gunman appeared in court Monday afternoon.

The House members who have returned to Capitol Hill appear shaken and unsure what actions to take to respond to the attempted assassination of their colleague.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also observed a moment of silence at the White House Monday, as did Americans across the country.  Afterwards, Mr. Obama talked to reporters alongside visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"The main thing we are doing is to offer our thought and prayers to those who have been impacted, making sure that we are joining together and pulling together as a country.  And as president of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I am spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them,” he said.

One of the six people killed was a nine-year-old girl.  The president also praised those bystanders at the scene who took quick action to tackle the gunman and to take away his ammunition as he tried to reload.

On the steps of the Capitol, Representative Emmanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri and a pastor, followed the moment of silence by leading an interdenominational prayer for all those killed and wounded in the attack, for the spirit of the United States and for the safety of all lawmakers.

"Help us move from this dark place to a place of sunshine and hope. Bless these God, your servants who serve this nation and keep them safe,” he said.

Republican Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he was glad the Republican leadership had suspended normal House business for one week.

"I think it was appropriate to take a step back and not be in session for what was going to be a shortened week anyway because of the Republican retreat,” he said.

But Upton told a reporter he does not believe it is necessary for Congress to take additional steps that would further restrict gun ownership.

The House had originally been set to hold a contentious vote on Wednesday to repeal President Obama’s sweeping health care reform legislation, before Republican members head to Baltimore, Maryland for a previously scheduled retreat.

Some Democratic lawmakers are floating ideas for new legislation once business resumes on Capitol Hill.  Democratic Representative Robert Brady of Pennsylvania says he would like to expand current legislation that put restrictions on images and words that threaten the president to include words and images that threaten members of Congress. Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York wants to introduce gun control legislation.

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from Washington, D.C. said it is highly unlikely that the new Republican-controlled House will pass tougher gun control laws.  But she says she is still not afraid and will continue to go out and meet with her constituents face to face.

"There is no practical way to change what we do.  The reason we are elected every two years is that the framers [authors of the Constitution] meant us to get as close to the people as possible, for them to judge us.  One way they will judge us is if they see us fleeing from them, because they will think we are afraid of them,” she said.

Rank and file House members currently do not have any security guards.

New House Speaker John Boehner says there will be no recorded votes on the floor of the House this week, though there will be a resolution introduced on Wednesday to honor the victims of the Tuscon massacre. Also on Wednesday, House members will receive a major security briefing involving the Capitol Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Related video by Chris Simkins:

You May Like

Photogallery Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs