PHOENIX -- The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to crack down on the use of lightweight planes to smuggle drugs across the border. The bill is important for another reason: It’s the last measure sponsored by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, (D-Ariz.)
The Tucson representative introduced legislation two and a half years ago to combat the use of ultralight aircraft. Resembling gliders with a small engine and propeller, ultralights are used by drug smugglers to carry narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Giffords’ first bill passed the House, but was never heard in the Senate. She co-sponsored another measure this year that increases the punishment for using ultralights and gives Border Patrol agents more tools to intercept them.
On the same day she submitted her resignation to focus on recovering from a gunshot wound, the Democrat cast her final vote as a member of Congress. Her bill passed unanimously.
The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the Giffords final bill.
A spokesman says Giffords is very gratified by the support of her colleagues and looks forward to the Senate quickly passing the measure so President Barack Obama can sign it into law.
Six people were slain - including federal Judge John Roll - and another 14 were shot in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson on January 8.
The man charged with the shooting rampage, Jared Lee Loughner, is receiving medication in prison as the judicial system determines whether he is fit to stand trial on murder and numerous other charges.
Loughner has a history of mental illness.