Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) sacrificed her legs in Iraq when a rocket hit the helicopter she was piloting. But Nancy Pelosi is unwilling to make any sacrifices for Duckworth's sake, and so the war veteran is losing the right to vote for her party's congressional leadership along with her 200 peers.
The Hill has the story about how Duckworth, pictured above—a former VA administrator and the daughter of an Asian immigrant—essentially lost her franchise in the House because she's expecting her first child:
House Democrats are continuing to criticize Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's refusal to allow Rep. Tammy Duckworth — a double amputee Iraq War veteran whose pregnancy has made her unable to travel — to vote by proxy in leadership elections this week.
Pelosi and her allies have been saying since Nov. 13, when the issue first came up, that House Democratic Caucus rules prohibit proxy votes, and that allowing exceptions for the Illinois Democrat would create a slippery-slope scenario.
The party's longtime congressional leader, of course, has the power to prevent rule-exceptions from growing out of control, especially when the exception is requested by a pregnant double-amputee. But no, Pelosi is hewing to a Scalia-like strict interpretation of the party's legal canon: "The fact is is that it's really important to be here, to be in caucus," she said Monday. "It's more important to vote on the floor."
Sources suggest to the The Hill that the move is less about rules than softening resistance within the party to Pelosi's chosen candidates on the leadership slate; Duckworth publicly supported a challenger against a Pelosi ally in the contest to be the senior Democrat on the Republican-run Energy and Commerce Committee.
Pelosi's decision has rankled leading Democrats, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz and civil rights icon John Lewis:
[M]any members are concerned about the optics of not allowing Duckworth a proxy vote when Democrats are supposed to be the party that fights for women. Democrats have tried to make electoral gains by touting the "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds" economic agenda.
Duckworth has said she won't fight the decision to make her sit out the balloting. Even an Army officer who endured sexism in the ranks, safely crash-landed a wounded Blackhawk helicopter in a dangerous stretch of Baghdad, and learned how to walk on artificial limbs understands that some fights can't be won.
[Photo credit: AP Images]