Women and Adversity: Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth
Illinois, 8th Congressional District
Ten years ago on Nov. 12, 2004, Tammy Duckworth lost both legs and sustained limited use of her right arm when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq. She was 36 years old and had married fellow Illinois Army National Guard member Bryan Bowlsbey in 1993.
It took a year to recover from her injuries, but Duckworth used the tragic experience to advocate for better health care for wounded veterans and testified to Congress on two occasions. She accepted the appointment as director of Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs in 2006. When he took office in 2009, President Obama chose her to be assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth concentrated her efforts on ending homelessness for veterans.
In 2012 she won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the Illinois 8th Congressional District and is the first disabled woman veteran ever to be elected to the House and the first Asian-American from Illinois. She won reelection Nov. 4 and looked forward to the birth of her daughter in December.
Adversity reentered Duckworth’s life when her request to vote by proxy in the House Democratic Caucus leadership meetings was denied. Her physician did not recommend she travel to Washington for the vote, and the Democratic Caucus rules do not allow proxy votes. Members of the Caucus objected, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, representative from California, voted with the majority that no exceptions be made, no matter the circumstances. It is reported that Duckworth was not going to vote for the person Pelosi wanted on the Energy and Commerce committee in the next Congress.
Duckworth, however, reigned supreme. She had baby girl Abigail Nov. 18. On Nov. 19 Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey was chosen by the Caucus for the Energy and Commerce Committee, bucking Pelosi’s backing of Ann Eshoo of California.
Congratulations Rep. Duckworth. You won all the way around, especially with the birth of your daughter.
Check out www.tammyduckworth.com, www.duckworth.house.gov, www.biography.com/people/tammy–duckworth-21129571.