Tammy Duckworth reflects on first term in U.S. Senate

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From partisan bickering and sexual harassment scandals, freshman Senator Tammy Duckworth?s first year in office has been quite a ride. (WLS)

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From partisan bickering and sexual harassment scandals to a battle royale over tax cuts, freshman Senator Tammy Duckworth's first year in office has been quite a ride.

Senator Duckworth began her first term in the Senate at the same time Donald Trump was taking over the White House. And for anyone who has remotely followed this past year in Washington, the term "interesting" might be the most polite way to describe it.

Duckworth is no stranger to battles: the Iraqi War veteran has faced bigger challenges than Washington could ever throw her way. But after getting her first piece of legislation passed in her first 60 days in office, she says the year quickly turned frustrating.

"The year started off very hopeful, in that way," she said. "Hoping there would be more bi-partisanship, but really frustrating with the fact that we have not be able to get a lot accomplished."

Duckworth said President Trump has made Washington more partisan.

"I've never seen the level of animosity that I have seen this past year," Duckworth said.

When asked about the current climate in Washington with all the sexual harassment allegations, Duckworth said: "I think that there's just a lot of upheaval and turmoil right now because every day, every week it seems like someone else, another case comes forward."

The toughest one for her involves fellow Senator Al Franken.

"I'm not reversing my position on asking him to resign," she said. "It's probably one of the toughest conversations I've had with a friend. I've known Al since I was a patient at the hospital and he visited me as part of a USO tour, but I will tell you that I asked him to resign."

Duckworth said the problems at the Quincy veteran's home - which have resulted in more than a dozen deaths tied to Legionnaire's disease since 2015 - happened several years after she left that post as the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

"The real problems at Quincy, a lot of it has to do with the aging infrastructure. And I think what we need to do is when we talk about whatever happened in Quincy is focus on the fact that we have veterans who need the help and need the care," Duckworth said.

Of course, the other big issue in Washington is the controversial tax bill which Duckworth said she will vote against, but that she thinks will pass - and she expects that vote could happen in the next couple of days.
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