Sen. Tammy Duckworth sheltered on her own on January 6 because evacuating the Senate would have been nearly impossible for a wheelchair user




  • In Politics
  • 2021-10-27 13:53:35Z
  • By Business Insider
Senator Tammy Duckworth in 2020. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Senator Tammy Duckworth in 2020. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth didn't shelter with her colleagues on January 6 because she uses a wheelchair.

  • She told Insider she feared the lack of accessibility in the Senate would have hindered her escape.

  • The Illinois Democrat shared her story as part of Insider's oral history of January 6.

Evacuating the Capitol on January 6 was no easy task, but for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who uses a wheelchair to get around, it would have been almost impossible.

Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, was heading through the tunnels to the Senate to give a speech when a Capitol police officer told her the violent mob had breached one of the doors. As a veteran who lost her legs in a crash when her helicopter came under fire in Iraq in 2004, she had a split-second decision to make.

"Do I go and still be with the other senators? Or try to secure myself and hope that I can stay someplace secure until they can come get me?" she recalled to Insider as part of an oral history of January 6 with interviews from 34 lawmakers, staffers, journalists, and police.

Duckworth has served in Congress since 2013, first in the House before ascending to the Senate in 2017. Meaning she'd had eight years of experience with the US Capitol's shortcomings when it came to allowing people with disabilities to navigate the complex.

"Being a wheelchair user, knowing how few entrances and exits and ways off the floor there are for me in my wheelchair, and that the stairs wouldn't be an option if they needed to move, I decided not to go forward," she said.

Duckworth and two staffers - including her body man, former Kurdish fighter Abdulla Sindi - returned to her office where they prepared to weather the insurrection on their own. They barricaded themselves inside her office, waited, and watched the melee unfold on television.

"I was in communications with Sen. Amy Klobuchar the entire time," Duckworth said. "I texted her and said, 'Hey, I'm not coming to join you guys. I'm going to secure myself. Don't worry about me, I'm fine. I know how to take care of myself. I will let you know if I think we're gonna be in trouble.'"

A recent biannual report by the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights found 1,996 barriers for people with disabilities throughout the Capitol complex. While about 900 of those barriers came from issues with restroom facilities, 134 identified barriers came from doors, 131 from "interior routes" and another 38 from stairs.

Duckworth's decision to head back and shelter on her own turned out to be both practical and prescient.

"I was gonna stop by my hideaway," she said. "And my hideaway is immediately to the right of where they broke into the Capitol. In fact, they tried to initially get in via my hideaway windows.

"Had I gone on, I would have been in my hideaway right when they were trying to come in," she said.

COMMENTS

More Related News

If Roe is gutted, Democrats are unlikely to make it law. But they
If Roe is gutted, Democrats are unlikely to make it law. But they'll run on it.

The party plans to argue to voters next year that Republican victories could fuel restrictions on or outlaw abortions.

Majority blues: House Dems not done limping for the exit
Majority blues: House Dems not done limping for the exit

"This place is a slog," said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), who added that some may have thought control of Congress "would solve all the problems."

A sixth Idahoan has been arrested in Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He
A sixth Idahoan has been arrested in Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He's the first from East Idaho
  • US
  • 2021-12-02 00:02:32Z

An Idaho Falls man, Tyler Tew, was picked up by FBI agents and local law enforcement Tuesday.

Hedge fund CEO readies Senate bid despite Oz announcement
Hedge fund CEO readies Senate bid despite Oz announcement

David McCormick is expected to join the Pennsylvania GOP primary in the next few weeks.

Senate Republicans Threaten Government Shutdown Over
Senate Republicans Threaten Government Shutdown Over 'Vaccine Mandate'

The rule requiring employees at large companies to get vaccinated or be tested weekly hasn't taken effect yet.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Politics