In 2001, on this day Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-SD) was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital after a letter he had opened was found to have contained anthrax spores.
Anthrax kills Daschle by Eric LippsEmergency treatment failed to stem the development of the disease, and on Oct. 23, 2001, Daschle died. The tragedy exacerbated partisan tensions in Washington, D.C., already high despite calls for unity from leaders of both parties in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The situation was not helped when it developed that several other senators, all Democrats, had apparently been targeted as well, though the quick lockdown of twelve Senate offices apparently prevented the anthrax letters addressed to them from reaching their intended victims.
Interparty paranoia would hobble efforts to enact antiterrorist legislation and would put President George W. Bush on the defensive. When in October 2003 he sought authority for military action against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, that division would lead to the defeat of the war powers resolution he had asked for.