WASHINGTON — Two weeks after being elected to a second term, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) gave birth to her first child.
“My husband Bryan and I are thrilled to announce that we are the proud parents of a baby girl,” Duckworth said in a statement. “Abigail O’kalani Bowlsbey was born on Nov. 18. Bryan and I were deeply honored that [former] Sen. [Daniel] Akaka acted as Hawaiian elder and selected her middle name.”
Born in Thailand, Duckworth has ties to Hawaii, having spent her teen years there.
“We are grateful for the love and support of our family and friends,” she said. “We also appreciate the respect for our privacy during this important moment in our lives.”
On Nov. 4, Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs in combat, was re-elected in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, beating Republican Lawrence Kaifesh, 55.4 percent to 44.6 percent.
She announced her pregnancy on NBC’s “Today” show in September during an appearance with other female Iraq War vets who are amputees.
Her pregnancy became the subject of controversy earlier this month when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Caucus denied Duckworth’s request to vote by proxy as her doctor had advised against traveling to Washington, D.C.
The decision drew criticism from Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” and others, given Pelosi’s position on leaves for women who have children.
During a Nov. 17 press conference, Pelosi responded, “I was one of the ones who said to Congresswoman Duckworth: ‘Don’t come back here. This is the most glorious experiences in your life, your center of the universe will change for you when you have this precious new baby.’
“The rules of the caucus are the same as the rules of the House: no proxy voting. And it would require changing rules of the caucus as opposed to different from the rules of the House. She understood that full well. The fact is that it’s really important to be here, to be in caucus; it’s more important to vote on the floor. If I were to make a fight, I’d vote to have a proxy on the floor than whatever is going on in the caucus.
“But the fact is we don’t know what’s going on in the lives of many people – I think one of our members may be having an operation this week or that. You’re going to establish a situation where we’re going to determine who has a note from the doctor or not. It’s really a place we shouldn’t go down, but is not to be confused with not having family and medical leave …
“She’s a heroine to our country. We’re very excited about the baby. And in fact, knowing about the baby, I appointed Congresswoman Duckworth to the Benghazi committee. Only five appointments did I have. I wanted our strongest members there. She informed me of her good news and I just said: ‘Just take it as it comes. To the extent that you can serve, we want you to be there.’
“So I don’t know why all this fuss was made about a vote in the caucus. I think that if the House wants to change its rules about proxies in general that applies to the floor and the caucus, it’s another thing. But we wish her well. She has all of our good wishes and prayers. And I had a very lovely conversation with her.
“But even again, knowing of her beautiful expectation very early on, I said: ‘We need our best thinking there. We need you on the Benghazi committee.’”
The National Journal quoted anonymous insiders as saying that Pelosi’s decision may have been influenced by an intra-party fight. The Democrats’ top seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee is being vacated by retiring Rep. Henry Waxman of Los Angeles, and the top contenders to succeed him were Rep. Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto, who was backed by Pelosi, and Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, who was backed by Duckworth.
On Nov. 19, Eshoo lost to Pallone by a vote of 90 to 100.