Tammy Duckworth was born in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 12, 1968, and moved to Hawaii with her parents when she was a teenager. She earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Hawaii in 1989, and an M.A. in international affairs from George Washington University three years later. In 1992 Duckworth became a commissioned officer in the United States Army …
Tammy Duckworth was born in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 12, 1968, and moved to Hawaii with her parents when she was a teenager. She earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Hawaii in 1989, and an M.A. in international affairs from George Washington University three years later. In 1992 Duckworth became a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve, and in 1996 she joined the Army National Guard. While pursuing a Ph.D. in political science in the ’90s and early 2000s – first at Northern Illinois University and then at Capella University – Duckworth also worked in Evanston as a manager for Rotary International’s Asia-Pacific Region.
In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq for active combat duty in the Iraq War. On November 12 of that year, the Black Hawk helicopter that she was piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, causing her to lose nearly all of her right leg, half of her left leg, and partial use of her right arm.
In 2006, Duckworth, a Democrat, made a failed run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and was subsequently appointed as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA). Her appointment was made by then-Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was later impeached and sentenced a 14-year prison term on corruption charges. According to a 2008 audit by Illinois Auditor General William Holland, the IDVA under Duckworth was guilty of numerous transgressions, including financial mismanagement, poor record-keeping, failure to inventory equipment, and abuse of travel budgets.
In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Duckworth as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where she served for the next two years. In 2012, Duckworth was elected to represent the Eighth Congressional District of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives; she was re-elected two years later. In both campaigns, she received the endorsement and financial support of J Street. In 2012, for example, that organization raised $90,000 for Duckworth, ran television ads on her behalf, and disseminated political mailers to Jewish voters in her district.
During her tenure in Congress, Duckworth lauded the Hamas-affiliated Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its “commitment to promoting tolerance and defending civil rights.” On one occasion, she thanked CAIR for its “leadership” in advancing “our mutual goal of guaranteeing equality and respect for all people.”
In 2015, Duckworth completed her requirements for a Ph.D. in human services from Capella University.
In March of that same year, Duckworth – who, during her years in the House, was never the main sponsor on any legislation that ultimately became law – announced her plan to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016 against Illinois’s incumbent Republican, Mark Kirk.
In September 2015, Duckworth spoke out in favor of the so-called Iran nuclear deal – an agreement that allowed the Islamist regime in Tehran to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. “While not perfect, I believe the nuclear agreement provides the United States and our allies with the most realistic and effective course of action currently available to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” said Duckworth.
In February 2016,Duckworth asserted, without evidence, that two Iraqi refugees who were recently arrested on terrorism-related charges (in Texas and California) had been “radicalized because they’ve been on these talk hotlines with ISIS, [and] because they see people like Mark Kirk demonizing Muslims and Islam and wanting to shut down our borders.” “And that’s how we turn people against us, when we play right into ISIS’s hands,” Duckworth added, noting also that “[President] Donald Trump is out there … wanting to shut down all Muslims from entering the country.” That same year, Duckworth proposed that the U.S. should accept some 100,000 refugees from the war-torn, terrorism-infested nation of Syria.
Asserting that “climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time,” Duckworth in June 2017 condemned “President Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris Climate Agreement” as “a grave mistake” that “will weaken U.S. influence on the global stage and, as other countries embrace green energy and technology, will leave our country’s economy behind.”
In February 2018, Duckworth stated that “a pillar of the American immigration system” was its commitment to “family reunification” and chain migration – a process whereby current immigrants can bring to the U.S. their entire extended families, who in turn can bring in their own extended families, and so on. “Family reunification reflects what is truly great about our nation,” Duckworth said. “It recognizes that what makes a family American is a shared commitment to the values of freedom and equality that are enshrined in the Constitution.”
For an overview of Duckworth’s voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Tammy Duckworth, click here.
Further Reading: “Duckworth’s Record: Few Legislative Successes, Some Veterans Programs Sputtered” (Chicago Tribune, 10-19-16); “Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth Statement in Support of Iran Nuclear Deal” (Enewspf.com, 9-10-2015); “House Democrat: U.S. Muslims Are Being Radicalized by Politicians Calling for Border Control” (Washington Free Beacon, 2-9-2016); “Tammy Duckworth: Chain Migration is ‘A Pillar of American Immigration System’” (by John Binder, 2-2-2018).
- Moreover, Duckworth failed to achieve a number of her own stated priorities. As the Chicago Tribune reports: “An early plan to provide tax credits for businesses that hire veterans lagged under Duckworth, as did a program aimed at encouraging nurses to work at veterans homes by helping them pay off student debt…. At the federal VA, Duckworth’s office was criticized in an audit for awarding a $5.2 million contract for outreach campaigns but being unable to demonstrate that the money helped increase awareness of and access to veterans health care, benefits and services.” Critics also noted that Duckworth had spent $2,100 of taxpayer money to purchase china that bore the VA logo, and $1,875 on so-called “challenge coins” (used by military leaders as gift tokens for employees) with her name engraved on one side.