Gabrielle Giffords brings down the House

The congresswoman makes a dramatic appearance on the House floor

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Emergency legislation to avoid an economy-rattling government default sped through the House Monday night, a scant day before the deadline for action — the dramatic vote made all the more memorable by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ first appearance in Congress since suffering a head wound in a shooting six months ago.

The vote was 269-161, but all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber and cast her vote in favor of the bill.

A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday.

“If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions.

After months of fiercely partisan struggle, the House’s top Republican and Democratic leaders swung behind the bill, ratifying a deal sealed Sunday night with a phone call from House Speaker John Boehner to President Barack Obama.

“The legislation will solve this debt crisis and help get the American people back to work,” Boehner said at a news conference a few hours before the vote.

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