The 113th Congress has the fewest number of veterans serving since World War II. 19% of the 535 combined members in the U.S. House and Senate have active-duty military service, down from a peak in 1977 when 80% of lawmakers had served in the military. (The draft was eliminated in 1973.) Congress had 200 fewer veterans in its ranks in 1991 when it first voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. The close Senate vote was 52-47, the House 250-183.
Among the 103 veterans in the new 113th Congress, 16 have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. That includes the former Black Hawk helicopter pilot Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill (who lost both her legs in Iraq), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, a medical operations specialist who was deployed twice (Iraq and Kuwait). They are the first two female combat veterans to serve in Congress. They and their colleagues in the 113th Congress will soon have to revisit the $500 billion cut in defense spending, recently averted, which would have put 800,000 civilian employees immediately on furlough.
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