The House Democratic Caucus leadership and committee member elections are next week, but not for Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill..
Duckworth is 46 and eight months pregnant, putting her pregnancy in a high risk category. She previously lost both of her legs in the Iraq war. She has sacrificed much for her country. Duckworth was recently advised by her doctor that she cannot travel to Washington for the elections so close to the end of her pregnancy, but she still wants to participate in an election crucial to her party.
In a letter to the Democratic Caucus Members, which was read during a closed-door Democrat meeting on Thursday, Duckworth wrote:
“I write to request your assistance regarding upcoming votes for our Caucus. As you are aware, I am in the final weeks of my pregnancy, and have been instructed by my physician not to travel. As a result, I will not be attending the upcoming Caucus meetings in person and I would like to request a proxy vote on the upcoming leadership and ranking member elections that will come before the Caucus in the coming weeks.”
The Chicago Sun Times reported that Rep. Duckworth’s request for a waiver of the rules of the demcratic caucus had support from three other women in the Illinois delegation, Rep.Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Robin Kelly and Rep Cheri Bustons. Duckworth’s plea was denied. Among others, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposed Duckworth’s request .
Democratic aides who asked not be identified, told the National Journal, they believed the decision to block Duckworth, from casting a proxy vote was related more to the tight intra-party race for the party’s top seat next session on the Energy and Commerce Committee. The seat will be vacated by retiring Rep. Henry Waxman. Nancy Pelosi has been backing Rep. Anna Eshoo of California for Waxman’s seat, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has backed Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey. Duckworth is among those who have thrown her support behind Pallone—against Pelosi’s choice of Eshoo. Tsk Tsk.
So was the denial of Duckworth’s request political? Dems would say “no” – they were just trying to avoid a “slippery-slope” which would be caused by granting the wavier request. Although the rules do not allow proxy voting, a senior aide pointed to the bending of caucus rules in other situations. The aide pointed out that the caucus is allowing three members whose Election Day races have not yet been called to be allowed to vote, as if they’ve won reelection already. “But here you have a woman, a decorated war veteran who is undergoing a high-risk pregnancy, and they can’t suspend the rules,” the unidentified aide commented.
In any event, enforcement of this rule is hostile to pregnant women and not waiving it in the case of Duckworth perpetuates the war on women so frequently cited by the Dems. Don’t you think?