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Rep. Giffords returns to D.C. for White House ceremony

Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in a January assassination attempt, will make a rare appearance Thursday in a retirement ceremony for her husband at the White House.

Giffords's congressional office announced Wednesday that the Democrat was on her way to Washington to participate in a brief ceremony for her husband, NASA Astronaut Mark Kelly, marking his retirement from the U.S. Navy.

Vice President Biden will preside over a ceremony for Kelly, who will deliver brief remarks. The event will not be open to cameras, however; a print pool reporter will cover the event, photos from which will be released through Giffords's Facebook page. Giffords will not go to Capitol Hill or participate in any official congressional duties, her office said in a release.

This trip marks the sixth time since January that Giffords has left Houston, where she has undergone intensive rehabilitation since being shot in the head in January during an event in her Arizona district. Giffords had traveled this spring to Florida to watch the launch of a shuttle mission that her husband commanded. She also made a memorable, surprise appearance on the House floor this summer for a high-stakes vote on a deal to prevent a default on U.S. debt.

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell contributed to this report.