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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Introduces Last Bill Before Stepping Down

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GABRIELLE GIFFORDS
AP

WASHINGTON -- Two days before resigning from Congress, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday announced her final piece of legislation aimed at cracking down on cross-border drug smugglers.

Giffords, who is stepping down to focus on her recovery from the January 2011 Tucson shootings that nearly took her life, said the bill would impose new penalties on smugglers who use small, low-flying aircraft to illegally bring drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill is set for a House vote on Wednesday morning, according to Giffords' office, and the congresswoman will be there to vote on it as her last official act as a member of Congress.

Giffords introduced the bill on Monday with fellow Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake (R). The bill is a version of legislation that Giffords introduced in 2010 that overwhelmingly passed the House on a 412-3 vote, but it never made it out of that session of Congress. An aide to Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who introduced Giffords' bill in the Senate the last time, said he is working with Senate leadership to make sure Giffords' latest bill "is wired for passage" when it comes over from the House this time.

"Congresswoman Giffords is committed to taking this crucial step that would help secure the border against drug smugglers," Giffords' chief of staff Pia Carusone said in a statement. "That's why she decided this would be the last bill she introduces before she steps down."

Giffords released a video on Sunday announcing her decision to resign from Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a close friend of Giffords', said Giffords had been thinking about stepping down "for a while," but it was notuntil she returned to Tucson for the anniversary of the Jan. 8 shootings that her decision "came into focus."

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