Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth did not mince words during a speech on Saturday night, blasting President Donald Trump for his use of the military as a talking point during the government shutdown.
Trump has repeatedly used the military as a focal point for his messaging during the government shutdown, which began early Saturday. The president tweeted that Democrats are “holding our Military hostage” during the shutdown.
Duckworth — an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient who lost both legs in a combat mission — was not having it.
“I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft-dodger,” Duckworth said during a speech on the Senate floor. “And I have a message for cadet bone spurs: If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops and millions of innocent civilians in danger.”
The Illinois Democrat was referring to Trump’s infamous diagnosis of bone spurs in 1968, which allowed him to be exempt from the Vietnam War draft.
Trump told the New York Times in 2016 that the ailment “healed up” over time.
Duckworth also went after Trump for his leadership of the military during the shutdown.
“Does he even know 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 try and deflect blame?” Duckworth asked. “Or that his own Pentagon said that their short-term funding plan that he seems intent on pushing is not just harmful to our military but to our national security?”
During the shutdown, the Department of Defense enacted a plan that maintains “operations necessary for the safety of human life and the protection of property.” This means active duty military personnel will remain on duty but not receive pay, and nonessential services like the Armed Forced Network are not operational.
If Congress doesn’t reach a deal to fund the government by the time the NFL playoffs kick off Sunday afternoon and evening, the network won’t be able to broadcast the games to troops deployed overseas.
During the 2013 shutdown, a bill to provide pay for the military was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate before the shutdown officially kicked off. No such bill has passed this time, despite a motion that Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the motion.
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