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 (2009â€“11) and Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (2006â€“09). Duckworth was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, defeating Republican incumbent Mark Kirk.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Duckworth was rated by the National Rifle Association as having a pro-gun control congressional voting record. 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.
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.
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."
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."
Duckworth supports abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.
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.
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."