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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 01/12/2011

House passes resolution honoring victims of Tucson shooting rampage

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 6:20 p.m.: After more than six hours of often-emotional tributes delivered by lawmakers, the House on Wednesday approved a resolution condemning Saturday's shooting rampage in Tucson and honoring the victims of the tragedy, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

The House passed the resolution unanimously as it reconvened for its first day of business following the tragedy. House leaders have suspended all previously planned legislation in the wake of the shooting; instead, lawmaker after lawmaker took to the floor Wednesday to offer tributes to Giffords and the other victims. For many freshman lawmakers, including Arizona Reps. Ben Quayle (R) and Dave Schweikert (R), their remarks on the tragedy Wednesday were among the first floor speeches of their congressional careers.

Most lawmakers of both parties refrained from making political statements Wednesday and instead focused their remarks on Giffords, who was shot while meeting with constituents at a "Congress on Your Corner" event.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), choking up during his floor speech, urged Giffords to "keep at it. Don't stop. Fight, fight, fight."

"Times like these make it unmistakably clear how important second chances are," Becerra said. "How lucky we are that we can pick up the baton for [the victims] and finish the job of seeking justice and making our democracy a more perfect union. America, this is our second chance; this is our opportunity to shine. ... It's our turn to show courage."

A few lawmakers had more politically pointed remarks. "Guns kill, and those who glamorize gunplay do no service to humanity," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving House member, recited a list of violent rhetoric on the floor.

The day of tributes began shortly after 10 a.m., when the House reading clerk read the four-page resolution, which was offered by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Then, House leaders from both parties spoke from the floor about the mass shooting that killed six and wounded 14.

Lawmakers broke in the afternoon to sign books of condolence and well-wishes for Giffords and the other victims, followed by a closed-door bipartisan prayer service in the Capitol Visitors Center. Members also attended briefings in which House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood and representatives of the FBI and the Capitol Police have been addressing lawmakers' security concerns.

About 30 House members were present in the chamber as the resolution was read Wednesday morning. Most looked down or stared straight ahead; a few shuffled papers or read along with the clerk.

After the reading, Boehner spoke, followed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and others.

"Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not," a visibly emotional Boehner said. "This is a time for the House to lock arms in prayer for those killed and wounded, and in resolve to carry on the dialogue of our democracy."

He called Gabe Zimmerman, the Giffords community outreach director who was killed in Saturday's shooting, a "public servant of the highest caliber; one of our own." Pelosi, who visited Giffords's Washington office on Tuesday, was also full of emotion as she spoke.

President Obama will visit Tucson later Wednesday to deliver remarks at an evening memorial service.

The text of the nine-part resolution states that the House:

"condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific attack which occurred at the ''Congress on your Corner' event hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011;"

"offers its heartfelt condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who were killed in that attack; expresses its hope for the rapid and complete recovery of those wounded in the shooting;"

"honors the memory of Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, and Gabriel Zimmerman;"

"applauds the bravery and quick thinking exhibited by those individuals who prevented the gunman from potentially taking more lives and helped to save those who had been wounded;"

"recognizes the service of the first responders who raced to the scene and the health care professionals who tended to the victims once they reached the hospital, whose service and skill saved lives;"

"reaffirms the bedrock principle of American democracy and representative government, which is memorialized in the First Amendment of the Constitution and which Representative Gabrielle Giffords herself read in the Hall of the House of Representatives on January 6, 2011, of ''the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances;"

"stands firm in its belief in a democracy in which all can participate and in which intimidation and threats of violence cannot silence the voices of any American;"

"honors the service and leadership of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a distinguished member of this House, as she courageously fights to cover;" and

"when adjourning today, shall do so out of respect to the victims of this attack."

By Felicia Sonmez  | January 12, 2011; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: Memorial for Ashley Turton, former Hill staffer, to be held Friday


These are the moments that challenge us as a country: to allow free speech and deal with the hate that comes along with that right. Mamaguru has a good article about how to address this tragedy as a spiritual crisis for our country. You should check it out.

Posted by: yogaisgrace | January 13, 2011 2:02 AM | Report abuse

So I take it that while Obama is in Tucson he will say that the "..[sheriff] acted stupidly..", just as he did in the Cambridge, MA incident, right?

Posted by: flintston | January 12, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

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