Ill. lawmakers react to Ariz. shooting rampage

January 8, 2011 8:47:56 PM PST
Lawmakers in Chicago are calling the deadly attack shocking and horrific. Some of them say they know Congresswoman Giffords and are offering their prayers to her and her family.

On Capitol Hill, Giffords is known for being quick with a smile and easy to approach. Chicago-area lawmakers offered praise for her talents and prayers for a full recovery.

"She's a very warm, smart, caring, energetic member," said North Side Congressman Mike Quigley, as he thought of Giifords' generosity when he first got to Washington.

"She was one of the very first members who approached me and offered as much help as she possibly could with her staff and everyone else," Quigley said.

Among her colleagues, Giffords is known as a moderate and is well-regarded by both Democrats and Republicans.

"This is just a personal tragedy, and my heart just goes out to Gabby and her husband and her family," said U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat who represents Chicago and its northern suburbs.

Schakowsky said she had just seen Giffords within the last week in Washington.

"She's very active in her district, and for this to happen is absolutely shocking," Schakowsky said.

"I was shocked, and I thought about her. I prayed for her recovery and others," Republican Sen. Mark Kirk told ABC7 Chicago via telephone. "I worked with her closely on China relations, and we have very few congresswomen or men in the House who can speak some Chinese, and she's one of them."

Kirk says that Giffords took over his former office in the capitol after he moved to the Senate and that the two have worked together on several legislative issues.

"What a tragedy, and she's a wonderful mother, wife, and obviously, a wonderful public servant and congresswoman," Democratic U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez says he has worked with Giffords closely on immigration issues.

"And you know what, we're going to continue working together. I want to be as optimistic as those doctors are," he said.

"She is a dedicated, totally dedicated, member of Congress, a very brilliant woman," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, also a Democrat.

In a statement, west suburban Congressman Peter Roskam wrote, "Attacks of this kind, in our Democratic society, simply cannot stand. My thoughts and prayers are with all those injured and their families."

Thirteenth District Congresswoman Judy Biggert wrote in another statement, "Gabrielle is an amazing woman, a talented legislator, and a wonderful human being." Biggert continued," I have had the privilege of working with her closely on the science and technology committee and have always admired her passion and intelligence."

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. also issued a statement saying, "Rep. Giffords is a bright, engaging member of Congress, and has a tremendous future ahead of her."

Kirk and other members of Congress say although U.S. Capitol Police urged all members of Congress to take precautions, they do not plan to curtail their schedules.

"I have several town hall meetings coming up in Illinois, and I'm not going to cancel them. Gabby Giffords was doing her job, meeting with constituents and hearing from them, and we should continue," Kirk said.

"We're going to be, and I will be, listening carefully to the suggestions of the Capitol Police, but I certainly don't want to end up in a situation where members are isolating themselves from the very people that they serve. I have no plans to do that," said Schakowsky.

Several lawmakers speaking with ABC7 Chicago commented on the extreme partisanship that currently exists in Washington, and they said Giffords certainly did not add to that climate. She is a moderate.

Members of Congress were in Washington earlier this week and had returned home just for the weekend. They are due back on Capitol Hill Tuesday.