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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) entered and left the House on foot to massive applause, limping with the help of her husband, Mark Kelly. On her way out, she was trailed by her friends, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, as well as the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, who was in attendance just for the occasion.

"I got a tip," Biden said, beaming, when asked by TPM whether he had prior knowledge of the event. "That's why I came up. I wanted to give her a hug."

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the longest serving member of Congress, told TPM it was "wonderful" to see Giffords.

"Thank God she's coming along," Dingell said. "Well, we've had people shot but I've never seen them come back like that. But obviously every day around here is something new and different."

For Pelosi, who had just led her caucus through a bitter debate over the debt ceiling that climaxed with the passage of a bipartisan agreement on Monday (Gifford voted "aye"), the moment helped put everything in perspective. Like Biden she also had advance knowledge of the visit, having been informed by her chief of staff John Lawrence, a friend of the Gifford family.

"She and her husband care very much about our country, this was an important vote for them," she told reporters. "I'm so personally thrilled, though, that the vote seems...." She trailed off there.

Pelosi recounted how "We had our girl talk, yes, our girl hugs and all that" before Giffords departed, her total stay only a few minutes. She offered no news as to when -- or whether -- Giffords would return to work.

"I'm not going to talk about her schedule," she said. "Suffice to say, it was one of the thrilling moments for all of us to see this real heroine return to the House and to do so in such a dramatic time."

But Pelosi's heads up was an anomaly. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) said that members weren't given any sort of warning -- indeed one member told TPM that Giffords wasn't going to vote when rumors started flying on Twitter -- and Andrews said members "didn't know why all the applause went up."

"The board was at 200 votes, and no one knew," Andrews told TPM. "And I've gotta tell you, as low as that Saturday morning was, this was equally high...After all the sourness and bitnerness, it was a moment of real triumph. It reminded us of what really counts."

See VIDEO of Giffords' emotional return to the House floor

Ryan Reilly contributed to this report.

For the first time since she was shot on Jan. 8, 2011, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has taken her place as a voting member of Congress.

Walking in on her own to a thunderous standing ovation from a full House, Giffords cast an aye vote in favor of the bill raising the debt ceiling that has been Congress' focus for weeks.

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Oregon Rep. David Wu (D) filmed a video on Monday evening in which he announces a timeline for his resignation over the allegation he had an unwanted sexual encounter with the young daughter of a campaign contributor, a spokesman told TPM.

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With an eye towards penetrating emerging markets like China and Brazil, South Korea recently launched a $220-million pilot smart grid project on Jeju Island, a place previously known mostly for its tourism.

South Korea's Smart Grid Test Bed program, part public and part private - with the involvement of major companies SK Telecom, LG, Korea Electric Power, Hyundai and more - is the largest such project of its kind in the world, according to government officials.

The project is being financed by both the government and 168 private companies, investing $60 and $160 million, respectively.

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The scramble to avoid a catastrophic debt default is almost over -- and with an ending that would make Aaron Sorkin jealous. It was always going to be a dramatic moment, even once it became clear Republican and Democratic leaders had put together the votes to pass a last-minute bill to raise the debt ceiling.

However, the drama was heightened even further by the return of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot and nearly killed in January at a constituent event in Tuscon.

As the clock ticked down, Democrats and Republicans had engaged in a standoff. Democrats were withholding their votes to force Republicans to go on the record first -- Democrats had no intention of letting Republicans off the hook on legislation that so closely adheres to their interests.

That all ended when Giffords walked into the chamber to a standing ovation, and proceeded to vote in favor of the measure. After a long applause, the votes cascaded in and the measure passed easily.

Still, scores of progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans voted against the legislation, which ultimately passed 269-161. Democrats split evenly: 95-95. The Republicans broke down 174-66. Though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) voted for the legislation, they did allow members to vote their conscience. And in a sign of Pelosi's underlying disapproval of the measure, her top allies, including Reps George Miller (D-CA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) ultimately voted no.

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The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama's immigration crackdown, arguing that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with federal enforcement of immigration policies.

The DOJ has asked the courts to grant a preliminary injunction against the law, which is scheduled to go into effect September 1st, because it will cause "irreparable harm" if allowed to stand until the law can work its way through the court system.

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Michele Bachmann has temporarily left the campaign trail, staying in Washington to vote against the debt ceiling deal -- but she's still finding time to talk to her pre-scheduled events in Iowa. What's more, she is even sticking with her vigorous physical campaigning motifs, though it might not translate as well over the phone.

The Des Moines Register reports that Bachmann addressed a rally in Iowa today, speaking to supporters over the phone and the event's P.A. system.

"Let me ask you this question," said Bachmann. "Do you want me to vote 'No' on raising the debt ceiling? Raise your hands."

Of the 30-person crowd, a majority slowly raised their hands -- though Bachmann could not see them.

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