Yesterday, the Senate finally voted to change an antiquated rule, and now babies under age 1 are allowed on the Senate floor during votes. The vote, which was unanimous, also allows senators with babies to breastfeed during votes.
This is all largely thanks to Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who recently gave birth to her second child. This makes her the first U.S. Senator ever to have a baby while in office. (Whaat?)
After the vote, Duckworth said that being a mom shouldn’t make anyone’s job harder: “By ensuring that no senator will be prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities simply because they have a young child, the Senate is leading by example and sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” she said in a statement.
In order to be on hand to cast her vote in the Senate, if needed, Duckworth decided to take her maternity leave in Washington, D.C. But she expressed concern about the complex and strict Senate rules, which might impact her ability to do her job and take care of a newborn.
In the past, senators with babies were not allowed to hand their baby off to someone, to bring a child on the floor, or to vote by proxy, CNN points out. That’s why Duckworth was working tirelessly to change the rules. She also took to Twitter to talk about why this legislation is important:
I may have to vote today, so Maile’s outfit is prepped. I made sure she has a jacket so she doesn’t violate the Senate floor dress code (which requires blazers). I’m not sure what the policy is on duckling onesies, but I think we’re ready pic.twitter.com/SsNHEuSVnY
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 19, 2018
By ensuring that no Senator will be prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities simply because they have a young child, the Senate is leading by example & sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 18, 2018
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, also commented on how the Senate needs to catch up to change: “The Senate is steeped in tradition and, just like the rest of the country, sometimes things have to change.”
We’re hoping this will lead to other progressive changes as well.