Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., mocked President Trump as a "draft dodger" for his multiple deferments during the Vietnam War in a speech Saturday on the Senate floor, panning the commander in chief for accusing Democratic lawmakers of holding the military "hostage" in the fight to pass a spending bill to end the partial government shutdown.
With the shutdown halting paychecks for troops, cause furloughs for civilian Defense Department workers, and causing disruption for the military, Duckworth argued Trump, who refuses to cave to the Democrats' demand for a "Dreamer" solution, is the one harming the U.S. armed forces.
“Does he even know that there are service members who are in harm’s way right now, watching him, looking for their commander in chief to show leadership, rather than to deflect blame?” Duckworth said. “Or that his own Pentagon says that the short-term funding plans he seems intent on pushing is actually harmful to not just the military, but to our national security?”
Duckworth, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and Purple Heart recipient, lost both her legs and injured her right arm when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting in Iraq in 2004 was shot out of the sky by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents.
“I spent my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible,” she went on to say during her speech Saturday. “Sadly, this is something the current occupant of the Oval Office does not seem to care to do — and I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.”
“And I have a message for cadet bone spurs: If you cared about our military, you'd stop baiting [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops, and millions of innocent civilians, in danger," she added, according to The Hill.
Trump, a wealthy businessman who grew up in a well-off family, received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, the first four being for college and the fifth for heel spurs.
Duckworth isn't the first lawmaker to goad Trump over this bone spurs. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., did so on C-SPAN3 in October of last year.
The shutdown, nearing the 24-hour mark by midnight, came when most Democrats and some Republicans voted to block a stopgap spending measure that would have funded the federal government through mid-February.
Democrats balked at the spending bill because they are trying to include a provision in it to protect “Dreamers” covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which prevents those who came to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported.
Trump issued his first comments on the shutdown in a series of early-morning tweets, asserting that Democrats "could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead."
"This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown," Trump tweeted just hours after the partial shutdown began. "Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead. #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!"
He also said Democrats are "holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!"
With the shutdown and no tangible solution yet in sight, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis offered reassurance and confidence to personnel of the Defense Department in the form of a memo on Friday. “Steady as she goes — hold the line. I know our nation can count on you," Mattis said, adding, “Stay alert" just before his signature.