Continued from page 1

“Her legacy will be the courage she has shown in recovering from this tragedy,” said former Rep. Jim Kolbe, a moderate Republican whose decision to resign cleared the way for Ms. Giffords‘ first successful 2006 campaign. “The legacy for our part of Arizona will be the way in which the community pulled together and united behind her, united as a family to reject this kind of hate, this kind of violence.”

For Ms. Giffords, civility had been an issue well before the shooting.

Even before she won her seat in Congress, she was part of the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute’s leadership program, designed to foster better sharing and cooperation on ideas among elected officials.

One of her fellow classmates was Jonathan Miller, then the treasurer of Kentucky, who would go on to co-found No Labels, a group that pushes elected officials to move past partisanship and who said Ms. Giffords has become a symbol of “a return to civility and a return to developing relationships.”

“That’s what Gabby’s career is all about,” he said.

His group and Third Way, a progressive-leaning think tank, want to institutionalize the bipartisan State of the Union seating, which Third Way and some lawmakers came up with in the wake of the Tucson shooting.

“There was that very temporary surge [in civility], and it was quickly forgotten it seems,” Mr. Miller said. “But I think in that temporary surge there were a number of efforts that got their germination, including No Labels, that really have picked up a lot of steam and a lot of energy.”

Much depends on what Ms. Giffords‘ colleagues do.

For the speech Tuesday, 200 of them pledged to sit with members of the other party.

Still to be seen is whether her approach to Congress carried over.

Jeff Rogers, chairman of the Democratic Party in Tucson, said Ms. Giffords was one of the last moderates left in Congress, and that matched her southeast Arizona district well.

“I hope it doesn’t mean that there are no more moderates in Congress that can work together, but right now it’s not looking like there are, particularly in the House,” Mr. Rogers said. “Maybe she’s one of the last of an era. I hope that’s not where we are, but we’ll sure find out this fall.”

Tuesday was the second time Ms. Giffords has been on the floor since the shooting attempt on her life.

In August, at the height of the debt-limit debate, Democrats were making House Republicans sweat over whether there would be enough votes to pass the deal Speaker John A. Boehner had struck with Mr. Obama.

But then Ms. Giffords made an electrifying visit to the floor, and amid the applause and tears her Democratic colleagues who had been holding back voted yes, boosting the deal to easy passage. Ms. Giffords voted in favor of the deal.