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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords To Resign From Congress

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, sit together at the start of a memorial vigil remembering the victims and survivors one year after the Arizona congresswoman was wounded in a shooting that killed six.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, sit together at the start of a memorial vigil remembering the victims and survivors one year after the Arizona congresswoman was wounded in a shooting that killed six.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is stepping down from Congress in order to focus on her health. The Democratic congresswoman from Arizona made the announcement on a YouTube video posted to her Facebook page Sunday.

"I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week," she says.

Giffords is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head suffered in the Tucson, Ariz., shooting rampage a year ago that left six people dead and 13, including the congresswoman, wounded. Though she struggles with some sentences in the video, her message is clear.

"I'm getting better. Every day, my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country," she says.

According to a press release from her office, Giffords intends to submit her letter of resignation later this week to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). A special election will be held to determine her replacement.

In a statement, Boehner praised Giffords.

"I salute Congresswoman Giffords for her service, and for the courage and perseverance she has shown in the face of tragedy," he said. "She will be missed."

The press release from Giffords' office said one of her last official events will be attending President Obama's State of The Union address on Tuesday night.

Update at 5:45 p.m. ET. Obama Says Giffords Will Remain An Inspiration:

In a statement just sent to reporters by the White House, President Obama says:

"Gabby Giffords embodies the very best of what public service should be. She's universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology — a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union. That's why the people of Arizona chose Gabby — to speak and fight and stand up for them. That's what brought her to a supermarket in Tucson last year — so she could carry their hopes and concerns to Washington. And we know it is with the best interests of her constituents in mind that Gabby has made the tough decision to step down from Congress.

"Over the last year, Gabby and her husband Mark have taught us the true meaning of hope in the face of despair, determination in the face of incredible odds, and now — even after she's come so far — Gabby shows us what it means to be selfless as well.

"Gabby's cheerful presence will be missed in Washington. But she will remain an inspiration to all whose lives she touched — myself included. And I'm confident that we haven't seen the last of this extraordinary American."

Giffords' husband is retired astronaut Mark Kelly.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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