Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona announced Sunday she intends to resign from Congress this week to concentrate on recovering from wounds suffered in an assassination attempt a little more than a year ago.
The Democratic congresswoman was shot in the head last January as she was meeting with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz. While her progress has seemed remarkable, she said she has more work to do to recover, and it is best for her state if she resigns her seat in the House.
Her shooting prompted an agonizing national debate about super-charged rhetoric in political campaigns.
In a two-minute video posted to her Facebook page, Giffords says: "I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice."
She says, "I'm getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country."
Under state law, a special election will be called to fill out the remainder of Giffords' term.
In a statement, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said that "since the tragic events one year ago, Gabby has been an inspiring symbol of determination and courage to millions of Americans."
Democratic officials had held out hope for months that the congresswoman might recover sufficiently to run for re-election or even become a candidate to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.
The shooting on Jan. 8, 2011, left 6 victims dead, a federal judge among them. Twelve others were wounded as well as Giffords.
A 23-year-old man, Jared Lee Loughner, has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the shooting. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and is being forcibly medicated at a Missouri prison facility in an effort by authorities to make him mentally ready for trial.
In the months since she was shot, Giffords has been treated in Houston as well as Arizona as she re-learned how to walk and speak.
She made a dramatic appearance on the House floor Aug. 2, when she unexpectedly walked in to vote for an increase in the debt limit. Lawmakers from both parties cheered her presence, and she was enveloped in hugs.
More recently, she participated in an observance of the anniversary of the shooting in Arizona.