Apr 21 2018
Even before she became the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office earlier this month, Senator Tammy Duckworth has long focused on making the country more hospitable for working mothers. In 2014, after giving birth to her first daughter while in the House of Representatives, Duckworth introduced legislation that guaranteed convenient and clean places to breastfeed and pump in airports.
And now the Illinois Democrat has brought that same focus to her own workplace. Duckworth proposed a resolution to lift a ban on babies from the Senate floor, and on Wednesday evening, the Senate unanimously approved her proposal.
Duckworth Becomes First Senator to Give Birth
“Tonight, we change the standing rules so that Senator Duckworth and any other senator who’s a parent of an infant, could bring their child to the floor of the Senate during a vote,” Sen. Dick Durbin said after the vote. “We certainly revere history in the United States Senate, but part of our history is recognizing change.”
Though Duckworth is the first senator to give birth while in office, the Associated Press reports that the previous Senate policy was to keep newborn babies off the floor, and relegate parents to the doorway of a nearby lounge. The Associated Press also reports that the unanimous vote didn’t necessarily come easy.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, father of six, grandfather of 14, and great-grandfather of 23, wondered what would happen if all of a sudden there were 10 babies on the Senate floor? To which Sen. Amy Klobuchar said having 10 babies on the Senate floor “would be a delight.”
Klobuchar told Politico that the issue of whether or not Duckworth will breastfeed on the floor, and in front of C-SPAN cameras, has already been raised as well, but that Duckworth doesn’t intend to do so. She said the resolution to allow babies on the floor was largely approved because the Senate often votes at unpredictable times, and sometimes late at night — something that’s hard to manage with a newborn.