Tammy Duckworth
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Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth
Tammy Duckworth, official portrait, 115th Congress.jpg
United States Senator
from Illinois

January 3, 2017
Serving with Dick Durbin
Mark Kirk
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 8th district

January 3, 2013 - January 3, 2017
Joe Walsh
Raja Krishnamoorthi
Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs
for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

April 24, 2009 - June 30, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Lisette Mondello
Michael Galloucis
Director of the
Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs

November 21, 2006 - February 8, 2009
GovernorRod Blagojevich
Pat Quinn
Roy Dolgos
Daniel Grant
Personal details
Ladda Tammy Duckworth

(1968-03-12) March 12, 1968 (age 51)
Bangkok, Thailand
Political partyDemocratic
Bryan Bowlsbey (m. 1993)
EducationUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa (BA)
George Washington University (MA)
Northern Illinois University
Capella University (PhD)
WebsiteSenate website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1992-2014
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Illinois Army National Guard
28th Infantry Division DUI.png 106th Aviation Regiment, 28th Infantry Division
Battles/warsIraq War (WIA)
AwardsPurple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal ribbon.png Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal with Oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
U.S. Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with four Oak leaf clusters
Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
Senior Army Aviator Badge.png Senior Army Aviator Badge
Order of the Crown of Thailand - 1st Class (Thailand) ribbon.svg Dame Grand Cross (First Class) of the Order of the Crown of Thailand[1]

Ladda Tammy Duckworth (born March 12, 1968) is an American politician and former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who has served as the junior United States Senator for Illinois since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she represented Illinois's 8th district in the United States House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017. Before election to office, she served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (2009-11) and Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (2006-09). Duckworth was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, defeating Republican incumbent Mark Kirk.[2]

Duckworth was the first Thai-American woman elected to Congress, the first born in Thailand elected to Congress, the first woman with a disability to be elected to Congress, the first female double amputee in the Senate, and the first Senator to give birth while in office. Duckworth is the second Asian American woman serving in the U.S. Senate, after Mazie Hirono, and before Kamala Harris.

A combat veteran of the Iraq War, Duckworth served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot and suffered severe combat wounds, which caused her to lose both of her legs and some mobility in her right arm. She was the first female double amputee from the war.[3] Despite her grievous injuries, she sought and obtained a medical waiver which allowed her to continue serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard along with her husband, Major Bryan W. Bowlsbey, a signal officer and fellow Iraq War veteran. Both have since retired from the armed forces.[4]

Early life and education

Tammy Duckworth was born in Bangkok, Thailand, the daughter of Lamai Sompornpairin and Franklin Duckworth. Her father, who died in 2005, was a U.S. Army veteran who traced his family's American roots to the American Revolutionary War.[5] Her mother is Thai, of Chinese descent.[6] Because of her father's work with the United Nations and international companies in refugee, housing, and development programs,[7] the family moved around Southeast Asia. Duckworth became fluent in Thai and Indonesian, in addition to English.[8]

Duckworth attended Singapore American School, and for a few months in her senior year was at the International School Bangkok, and was in the class of 1985 at Jakarta Intercultural School[9][10] (then known as Jakarta International School). The family settled in Hawaii when she was sixteen. Her father became unemployed for a time, and the family relied on public assistance.[7] She graduated with honors from McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1985, having skipped the ninth grade. She graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and later received a Master of Arts in international affairs from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.[11] She completed a PhD in Human Services at Capella University in March 2015.[12]

Military service

Following in the footsteps of her father, who served in World War II, and ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War,[5] Duckworth joined the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps as a graduate student at George Washington University in 1990. She became a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve in 1992 and chose to fly helicopters because it was one of the few combat jobs open to women. As a member of the Army Reserve, she went to flight school, later transferring to the Army National Guard and entering the Illinois Army National Guard in 1996.[13] Duckworth also worked as a staff supervisor at Rotary International headquarters in Evanston, Illinois.[14][15]

Captain Duckworth in 2000

Duckworth was working towards a Ph.D. in political science at Northern Illinois University, with research interests in the political economy and public health in southeast Asia, when she was deployed to Iraq in 2004.[14] She lost her right leg near the hip and her left leg below the knee[16] from injuries sustained on November 12, 2004, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents.[17] She was the first American female double amputee from the Iraq war.[3] The explosion severely broke her right arm and tore tissue from it, necessitating major surgery to repair it.[5][5] Duckworth received a Purple Heart on December 3 and was promoted to Major on December 21 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she was presented with an Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal.[17] She retired from the Illinois Army National Guard in October 2014 as a lieutenant colonel.[18]

The Daughters of the American Revolution erected a statue with Duckworth's likeness and that of the Revolution's Molly Pitcher in Mount Vernon, Illinois, in 2011.[5] The statue was dedicated in honor of female veterans.[5][19]

Government service

Duckworth being sworn in as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, by Judge John J. Farley with her husband Bryan Bowlsbey beside her.

On November 21, 2006, several weeks after losing her first congressional campaign, Duckworth was appointed Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs by Governor Rod Blagojevich.[20][21][22] Duckworth served in that position until February 8, 2009. While she was Director, she was credited with starting a program to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and veterans with brain injury.[23]

On September 17, 2008, Duckworth attended a campaign event for Dan Seals, the Democratic candidate for Illinois's 10th congressional district. Duckworth used vacation time, but violated Illinois law by going to the event in a state-owned van which was equipped for a person with physical disabilities. She acknowledged the mistake and repaid the state for the use of the van.[24][25]

Duckworth speaks during the third night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In 2009, two Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs employees at the Anna Veteran's Home in Union County filed a lawsuit against Duckworth.[26] The lawsuit alleged that Duckworth wrongfully terminated one employee and threatened and intimidated another for bringing reports of abuse and misconduct of veterans when she was head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.[27] Duckworth was represented in the suit by the Illinois Attorney General's office.[28] The case was dismissed twice but refilings were allowed.[29] The court set a tentative trial date of August 2016 and rejected the final motion to dismiss.[30] The state announced that it had settled the case in June 2016 for $26,000 with no admission of wrongdoing.[29] Although the plaintiffs later indicated they no longer wanted to settle, the judge gave them 21 days to sign the settlement and canceled the trial.[31][32]

Also in 2009, the Illinois Auditor General released an audit of the Veteran's Affairs department. Some issues noted by the audit predated Duckworth's tenure, while the majority of the audit covered Duckworth's tenure.[33] Findings of the audit included a fiscal year 2007 report that was not completed on time, failure to conduct annual reviews of benefits received by Illinois veterans, and failure to establish a task force to study the possible health effects of exposure to hazardous materials. The routine audit covered a two-year period, June 2006 to June 2008, and the findings were described by the auditor's department as "typical" in its audits.[34]

On February 3, 2009, Duckworth was nominated to be the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.[35] The United States Senate confirmed her for the position on April 22.[36] Duckworth resigned from her position in June 2011 in order to launch her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois' 8th Congressional District.[37]

U.S. House of Representatives


Duckworth spoke at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Democratic National Conventions.[38][39][40]


After longtime incumbent Republican Henry Hyde announced his retirement from Congress, several candidates began campaigning for the open seat. Duckworth won the Democratic primary with a plurality of 44%, defeating 2004 nominee Christine Cegelis with 40%, and Wheaton College professor Lindy Scott with 16%. State Senator Peter Roskam was unopposed in the Republican primary. For the general election, Duckworth was endorsed by EMILY's List, a political action committee that supports female Democratic candidates who back abortion rights.[41] Duckworth was also endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Fraternal Order of Police.[42][43] While she raised $4.5 million to Roskam's $3.44 million, Duckworth lost by 4,810 votes, receiving 49% to Roskam's 51%.[44]


Duckworth as a U.S. Representative during the 113th congress

In July 2011, Duckworth launched her campaign to run in 2012 for Illinois's 8th congressional district. She defeated former Deputy Treasurer of Illinois Raja Krishnamoorthi for the Democratic nomination on March 20, 2012, then faced incumbent Republican Joe Walsh in the general election.[45] Duckworth received the endorsement of both the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald.[46][47] Walsh generated controversy when in July 2012, at a campaign event, he accused Duckworth of politicizing her military service and injuries, saying "my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about." Walsh called the controversy over his comments "a political ploy to distort my words and distract voters" and said that "Of course Tammy Duckworth is a hero ... I have called her a hero hundreds of times."[48]

On November 6, 2012, Duckworth defeated Walsh 55%-45%.[49] She became the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first member of Congress born in Thailand.[50]


In the 2014 general election, Duckworth faced Republican Larry Kaifesh, a United States Marine Corps officer who had recently left active duty as a colonel.[51] Duckworth defeated Kaifesh with 56% of the vote.[52]


Duckworth was sworn into office on January 3, 2013.[53]

On April 3, 2013, Duckworth publicly returned 8.4% ($1,218) of her congressional salary for that month to the United States Department of Treasury in solidarity with furloughed government workers.[54]

On June 26, 2013, during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Duckworth received national media attention after questioning Strong Castle CEO Braulio Castillo on a $500 million government contract the company had been awarded based on Castillo's disabled veteran status.[55][56]

House committee assignments

U.S. Senate

2016 election

On March 30, 2015, Duckworth announced that she would challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Kirk for his seat in the 2016 Senate election in Illinois.[57] Duckworth defeated fellow Democrats Andrea Zopp and Napoleon Harris in the primary election on March 15, 2016.[58]

During a televised debate on October 27, 2016, Duckworth talked about her ancestors' past service in the United States military. Kirk responded, "I'd forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington." The comment led to the Human Rights Campaign withdrawing their endorsement of Kirk and switching it to Duckworth, stating his comments were "deeply offensive and racist."[59][60]

On November 8, Duckworth defeated Kirk 54 percent to 40 percent to win the Senate seat.[61] Duckworth and Kamala Harris, who was also elected in 2016, are the second and third female Asian American senators, after Mazie Hirono who was elected in 2012.[2]


In January 2018, following a federal government shut down after the Senate could not agree on a funding bill, Duckworth responded to President Trump's accusations that the Democrats were putting "unlawful immigrants" ahead of the military:

Duckworth became the first U.S. Senator to give birth while in office in 2018.[63] Shortly afterward, rules were changed so that a Senator has the right to bring a child under one year old on the Senate floor and breastfeed them during votes.[64] The day after those rules were changed, Maile became the first baby on the Senate floor when Duckworth brought her.[64][65]

Senate committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions


In April 2019, Duckworth was one of twelve senators to sign a bipartisan letter to top senators on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development advocating for the Energy Department to be granted with maximum funding for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), citing American job growth could be stimulated through investment in creating viable options to capture carbon emissions released into the atmosphere and expressing disagreement with the 2020 budget request of President Trump that called for combining the two federal programs that include carbon capture research.[67]

Foreign policy

Duckworth narrates the Salute to Fallen Asian Pacific Islander Heroes in Arlington, Virginia, June 2, 2005.

During her unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2006, Duckworth called on Congress to audit the estimated $437 billion spent on overseas military and foreign aid since September 11, 2001.[68]

On September 30, 2006, Duckworth gave the Democratic Party's response to President George W. Bush's weekly radio address. In it, she was critical of Bush's strategy for the Iraq War.[69]

In October 2006, The Sunday Times reported that Duckworth agreed with General Sir Richard Dannatt, the British Army chief, that the presence of coalition troops was exacerbating the conflict in Iraq.[70]

In May 2019, Duckworth was a cosponsor of the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act, a bipartisan bill reintroduced by Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin that was intended to disrupt China's consolidation or expansion of its claims of jurisdiction over both the sea and air space in disputed zones in the South China Sea.[71]

Gun law

Duckworth was rated by the National Rifle Association as having a pro-gun control congressional voting record.[72] Duckworth, who is a gun owner herself, cites violence in Chicago as a major influence for her support of gun reform. She supports universal background checks and the halting of state-to-state gun trafficking.[73]

Duckworth participated in the 2016 Chris Murphy gun control filibuster. During the sit-in, Duckworth hid her mobile phone in her prosthetic leg to avoid it being taken away from her since taking pictures and recording on the House floor is against policy.[73]

In a 2016 interview with GQ magazine, Duckworth stated that gaining control of the Senate and "closing the gap" in the House would be necessary in order to pass common sense gun laws. She also stated that she believed moderate Republicans, who support common sense gun reform, would have more power to influence gun reform if they were not "pushed aside by those folks who are absolutely beholden to the NRA. And so we never get the vote."[73]

In response to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Duckworth stated that "My heart goes out to the victims of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas last night and their loved ones. Such senseless and horrifying acts of violence have no place in America or any other nation."[74]

Health policy

Duckworth supports abortion rights[75][76] and the Affordable Care Act.[77]


Duckworth supports comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally. She would admit 100,000 Syrian refugees into the United States.[77]

In August 2018, Duckworth was one of seventeen senators to sign a letter spearheaded by Kamala Harris to United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen demanding that the Trump administration take immediate action in attempting to reunite 539 migrant children with their families, citing each passing day of inaction as intensifying "trauma that this administration has needlessly caused for children and their families seeking humanitarian protection."[78]

Electoral history

Illinois 6th Congressional District Democratic Primary, 2006[79]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic L. Tammy Duckworth 14,283 43.85
Democratic Christine Cegelis 13,159 40.40
Democratic Lindy Scott 5,133 15.76
Total votes 32,575 100.0
Illinois 6th Congressional District General Election, 2006[80]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Peter J. Roskam 91,382 51.35
Democratic L. Tammy Duckworth 86,572 48.65
Write-in votes Patricia Elaine Beard 3 0.00
Total votes 177,957 100.0
Illinois 8th Congressional District Democratic Primary, 2012[81]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tammy Duckworth 17,097 66.18
Democratic Raja Krishnamoorthi 8,736 33.82
Total votes 25,833 100.0
Illinois 8th Congressional District General Election, 2012[82]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tammy Duckworth 123,206 54.74
Republican Joe Walsh (incumbent) 101,860 45.26
Total votes 225,066 100.0
Illinois 8th Congressional District General Election, 2014[83]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tammy Duckworth (incumbent) 84,178 55.73
Republican Larry Kaifesh 66,878 44.27
Total votes 151,056 100.0
Illinois U.S. Senator (Class III) Democratic Primary, 2016[84]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tammy Duckworth 1,220,128 64.38
Democratic Andrea Zopp 455,729 24.05
Democratic Napoleon Harris 219,286 11.57
Democratic Patricia Elaine Beard 1 0.00
Total votes 1,895,144 100.0
Illinois U.S. Senator (Class III) General Election, 2016[85]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tammy Duckworth 3,012,940 54.86
Republican Mark Steven Kirk (incumbent) 2,184,692 39.78
Libertarian Kenton McMillen 175,988 3.20
Green Scott Summers 117,619 2.14
Write-in votes Chad Koppie 408 0.01
Write-in votes Jim Brown 106 0.00
Write-in votes Christopher Aguayo 77 0.00
Write-in votes Susana Sandoval 42 0.00
Write-in votes Eric Kufi James Stewart 5 0.00
Write-in votes Patricia Beard 1 0.00
Total votes 5,491,878 100.0

Personal life

After being shot down over Iraq, and losing both legs, Duckworth was fitted for prosthetics and is now fully mobile. She helped establish the Intrepid Foundation to help injured veterans.[86]

Former Republican presidential candidate and Senator from Kansas Bob Dole dedicated his autobiography One Soldier's Story in part to Duckworth.[87] Duckworth credits Dole for inspiring her to pursue public service, while she recuperated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; although, in 2006, Dole endorsed Duckworth's Republican opponent, Peter Roskam.[88]

In May 2010, Duckworth was awarded an honorary doctorate by Northern Illinois University.[89] In 2011, Duckworth was honored by Chicago's Access Living for her work on behalf of veterans with disabilities.[90]

Duckworth is married to Bryan Bowlsbey. The couple has two daughters: Abigail, who was born in 2014,[91] and Maile, born in 2018.[92] Maile's birth made Duckworth the first U.S. Senator to give birth while in office.[92][93] Former senator Daniel Akaka (Democrat of Hawaii) helped the couple with the naming of both daughters; Akaka died April 6, 2018, three days before Maile was born.[94] Shortly after Maile's birth, a Senate rule change permitted senators to bring children under one year old on the Senate floor to breastfeed.[64] The day after the rule change, Duckworth brought Maile with her during the casting of a Senate vote, making Duckworth the first senator to cast a vote while holding a baby.[64][65]

See also


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  90. ^ Karen Meyer, Duckworth to be honored for commitment to disabled veterans, ABC-7 Chicago website; accessed November 12, 2014.[dead link]
  91. ^ Skiba, Katherine (November 20, 2014). "Rep. Tammy Duckworth gives birth to daughter". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2016.
  92. ^ a b Anapol, Avery (April 9, 2018). "Duckworth gives birth to baby girl". TheHill. Retrieved 2018.
  93. ^ Stevens, Heidi. "Tammy Duckworth expecting 2nd child; will be 1st sitting senator to give birth". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018.
  94. ^ Stack, Liam (April 9, 2018). "Tammy Duckworth Becomes First U.S. Senator to Give Birth While in Office". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Roy Dolgos
Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by
Daniel Grant
Preceded by
Lisette Mondello
Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Succeeded by
Michael Galloucis
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joe Walsh
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Raja Krishnamoorthi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alexi Giannoulias
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Illinois
(Class 3)

Most recent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Mark Kirk
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
Served alongside: Dick Durbin
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Todd Young
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Maggie Hassan

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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