House Members Gather by Phone in Giffords' Honor

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WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress, their staff and spouses held an 800-person conference call Sunday, to discuss Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' medical condition after she was shot in the head in Arizona Saturday, and to talk about their own security.

Many of the lawmakers called in from their districts where they had returned after the first short week of the 112th Congress.

'Congress at its Best'

Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., described the bipartisan call as "Congress at its best" as both Republicans and Democrats poured out emotional tributes to the well-liked Giffords.

Larson said a medical doctor talked with conference call participants about Giffords' condition and what she will likely face as her brain begins healing. Giffords' chief of staff gave an update from Tucson.

The House Sergeant at Arms also talked about security. The Jan. 8 shooting was the first shooting of a congressperson in decades. Most of the 435 members of Congress have no security and spend much of their time meeting with the general public.

Larson praised the new Republican leaders of the House for their sensitivity in calling off votes and routine business for the coming week. Although representatives won't be voting, he said the House will still be in session at some points during the week. There will likely be many tributes for those slain and wounded in Tucson.

Obama Calls for Moment of Silence

Also Sunday afternoon, President Barack Obama called for a moment of silence at 11 a.m. ET, Monday, to honor the innocent victims of the Tucson shooter. He said it would be a time for the nation to come together in prayer or reflection.

Obama and members of his staff will mark that moment of silence in a gathering on the White House South Lawn.

The president also put off a trip for Tuesday to visit a division of General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y., and talk about the economy.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at