Gabrielle Giffords to Resign From Congress


Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords D-Ariz. has announced that she will resign from Congress. Photo Credit:

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords D-Ariz announced Sunday that she will resign from Congress. She stated that she still has “more work” left in her recovery after a gunman shot her in the head on Jan. 8 of 2011. Her resignation will occur later this week. Giffords has been a staunch supporter of NASA and her husband is four-time shuttle veteran Mark Kelly. 

Giffords made the announcement via a video posted on her website and a statement posted on Twitter. Her statement said that while her condition continues to improve – she feels that she is not able to adequately represent her constituents. 

“I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week,” Giffords said in the news release

Giffords was allegedly shot by Jared Lee Loughner. Six people were killed during the shooting rampage and another thirteen were injured. According to the book Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope – Giffords lost 50 percent of her vision, had to have a large portion of her skull removed and has suffered from a variety of other medical issues due to the shooting. 

After the shooting, her husband, who had been training for the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, was briefly replaced by Rick Sturckow as the flight’s commander. Family and friends (and by all accounts Giffords herself) encouraged him to fly the mission. When Endeavour lifted off from Launch Complex 39A on May 16, 2011 – Giffords was in attendance. 

Although still recovering from her injuries, Giffords was able to attend the final launch of space shuttle Endeavour. Mark Kelly, her husband, commanded the flight. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Giffords was shot as she was hosting an event known as “Congress On Your Corner.” Giffords plans to finish the event that was interrupted by the shooting. This event will not be open to the public as was the original event was. This event will be private and held in Tucson. Attendees will be comprised primarily of those who were at that original event. 

“A lot has happened over the past year,” Giffords said. “We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for, we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together.” 

For her part, Giffords does not appear to be allowing the shooting or her recovery to deter her from her work. 

“I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country,” Giffords said.

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  1. It’s a little disingenuous to say she was a ‘strong NASA supporter”. The Congresswoman opposed serious NASA reform efforts that her own Democratic President tried to instigate; efforts that would have led to a much broader overall American space effort. She pretty much was a champion for traditional business as usual – even though, as Constellation showed, that was failing. Let’s not equate blind support of the status quo as pro-NASA.

    • It is at best creative writing to categorize the President’s February 2010 effort to end NASA’s human space flight effort as “reforming NASA”.

      When the President proposed ending NASA’s existing HSF program in lieu of a “commercial” crew program, which by the way wasn’t one of the Augustine Committee’s suggestions, the Vegas odds were that the White House would, after some members from space states vented, get what it wanted. Still, it did strike people as odd that the President seemed to have so much faith in a few companies who had up to that time launched little more than small sats. Initial concern that there had been little if any due diligence by the Administration in vetting its drastic policy change for the American space program not only proved correct, but it was shown that the policy justification was based on studies that had long since proven more science fiction than rigorous analysis. House Space Subcommittee Chair Giffords’ letter to Aerospace Corporation, and its response back, did play a roll in casting in a poor light the work of the Augustine Committee.

      But if you need to blame someone, blame Neil Armstrong who on May 12, 2010 testified in part before the full Senate Commerce Committee, chaired then as now by Jay Rockefeller, that:

        With regard to President Obama’s 2010 plan, I have yet to find a person in NASA, the Defense Department, the Air Force, the National Academies, industry, or academia that had any knowledge of the plan prior to its announcement. Rumors abound that neither the NASA Administrator nor the President‟s Science and Technology Advisor were knowledgeable about the plan. Lack of review normally guarantees that there will be overlooked requirements and unwelcome consequences. How could such a chain of events happen? A plan that was invisible to so many was likely contrived by a very small group in secret who persuaded the President that this was a unique opportunity to put his stamp on a new and innovative program. I believe the President was poorly advised.

      In September 2010, a large bipartisan opposition had crafted and passed, first by unanimous consent in the Senate and then by an over 2/3 majority in the House, the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. With veto proof majorities facing him down, the President had little choice but to sign the Act on October 12, 2010.

      Rep. Giffords didn’t stand in the way of “reforming” NASA but, along with hundreds of other members of Congress, stood for a strong national human space flight program. Subsequent progress on Orion, which will be ready to fly in 2013, or 4 years before the commercial offerings can do likewise, has proven that Giffords and her fellow space supporters were right and that the President, and pointedly his advisors, were wrong.

      There will come a day when commercial crewed space will happen. But that will take technological advances that improve performance (Isp, or specific impulse) and weight of rocket engines. It may even require a new fuel for those engines. Systems will have to become efficient enough that 1 person can do the job of many. What is clear today is that there has been no technological inflection that would make the rockets planned by commercial crewed launch companies so efficient as to make manned space profitable. That’s not the fault of Giffords, Armstrong, or anyone; it’s physics.

    • Mr. Huntsman – the line you state as being ‘disingenuous’ – is accurate. Congresswoman Giffords supported NASA’s efforts. Just because she didn’t back Obama’s efforts to, as you put it “reform” NASA – does not mean she didn’t support the space agency. You highlight her party and the party of the current president – this has nothing to do with overall support – it has to do with partisanship. Allow me to counter your argument – let’s not equate blind support for a party – with overall support of the space program. The U.S. went from having a fixed time when it would be able to launch astronauts – to an unknown length of time in which it would be forced to rely on Russia.

  2. Jim Hillhouse January 23, 2012 at 2:18 am • Reply
    “House Space Subcommittee Chair Giffords’ letter to Aerospace Corporation, and its response back, did play a roll in casting in a poor light the work of the Augustine Committee.”

    I assume you are talking about the issue of the “wrap” numbers used in making cost estimates. Has anybody ever determined the source of those numbers?

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