Get To Know Tammy Duckworth

July 31, 2020

Tammy Duckworth

You might remember Tammy Duckworth from when she made history in 2018 by bringing her newborn baby to cast her vote in the Senate. But Duckworth is memorable for many reasons. She is an Iraq War veteran who was deployed to Iraq in 2004 as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. In November of that year, her helicopter was hit by an RPG, and she lost her legs and partial use of her right arm. As a result, she was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart

After she recovered, Duckworth became the Director of Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and served in the Illinois House of Representatives, where she helped create a tax credit for employees who hire veterans, established a 24/7 veterans hotline, and worked to help improve veterans’ access to housing and health care. Before being elected to the Senate in 2016, she served as Secretary of Veterans Affairs under President Obama, where she worked on a joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help address the unique challenges for veterans in this country, primarily homelessness. 

Here are some things that Duckworth has done as a member of the U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senator, and where she stands on issues that affect women:

  • In the House, she served on the U.S. Armed Services Committee. She has continued to advocate for working families and job creation. 
    • Worked on the bipartisan bill Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM), which focused on making safe, accessible lactation stations at airports mandatory, and became law in October 2018. 
    • Helped pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which aimed to reduce suicides among veterans. 
    • Introduced and helped pass the Troop Talent Act, which helped veterans find jobs in the private sector 

In the Senate, she:

    • Co-founded the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus.
    • Became the first Senator to give birth while serving in office in 2018 and established a Senate rules change that Senators can bring their infant children onto the Senate floor.

Here are some of the actions she’s taken in key issues this year alone:

  • Immigration: As the daughter of an immigrant mother and a father who can trace his roots to the American Revolutionary War, Duckworth is an advocate for immigrants. In March of this year, she wrote to the  Field Office Director at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to allow a blind man to take his citizenship test with the proper accommodations. 
  • Healthcare: In May of this year, along with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Duckworth announced that seven Illinois healthcare providers would be awarded federal funding for telehealth during COVID-19. “Expanding the reach of Illinois’s healthcare network is critical to extending reliable care to more Illinoisans,” Duckworth said.
  • Criminal justice reform: Duckworth is against defunding the police but is for communities investing in other resources that help residents in times of crisis. In a virtual roundtable in June, Duckworth had this to say about criminal justice reform: “Let the police do their job of policing and going after crime. Let peaceful protesters peacefully protest. If the folks that [Trump] is sending to Chicago are truly going to work with the city of Chicago in dealing with some of the issues that they are facing, great. We welcome them,” she said. “But if [Trump]’s sending them to be this secretive police force that’s wearing military-style equipment, driving unmarked vehicles with no insignia on their uniforms and grabbing people off the streets, then no, let’s not have that happen.”

On July 29, Duckworth told ABC News that while her and Biden’s “paths cross at events,” she’s, “not at liberty to say whether I’ve spoken to him. I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to serve my nation. … Some girls fall for the drummer in a band, I fall for the ‘you need to serve your country’ line.”