House passes debt deal, Giffords makes dramatic return

Just a few minutes ago, the House voted to approve the debt-ceiling agreement reached yesterday, and the margin wasn’t even as close as expected.

When the gavel came down, the final vote was 269 to 161. The Democratic caucus — much of which refrained from voting until most GOP members had cast their vote — was split evenly, while the clear majority of Republicans backed the agreement.

Nearly as important as the vote itself was the dramatic return of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), just six months after an attempt on her life, returned to the House floor unexpectedly and voted in support of the debt deal. She received a hero’s welcome from the chamber. (No, don’t mind me, I just have something in my eye…)

Though reports of her recovery have noted how physically challenging the process is, I’d note that Giffords could be seen chatting with colleagues, smiling, and even shaking hands and waving, suggesting the congresswoman has made incredible strides in a short period of time.

I have to say, as much as this bill bothers me, and as much as the recent breakdowns in our political system have disgusted me, Giffords’ return was a beautiful sight.

As for the legislation, the Senate is still expected to take it up in the morning, where passage is all but assured.

Update: Here’s the roll call on the House vote.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.