The Senate Is Now a Baby-Friendly Workplace

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profile picture of Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
April 18, 2018
tammy duckworth proposing newborns be allowed in the senate when voting
Image: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Tammy Duckworth is a new mom (for the second time). She’s also a United States senator. Her back-to-work transition will probably be a little different from that of a usual office job, since, you know, she’s the first US Senator to welcome a baby while in office, ever. With that in mind, she successfully worked to change longstanding Senate rules so that babies will be allowed on the floor.

Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, submitted a resolution this week that would allow senators to bring a child under the age of 1 to the Senate floor during votes. Despite some hesitation from older, male senators, it passed unanimously. Previously, not only could they not do this, but they also couldn’t hand a baby off to a staffer during voting, or vote by proxy. Duckworth, who still plans to be a part of any Senate votes during maternity leave, has previously discussed how these rules would impact her ability to do her job while breastfeeding.

Luckily, leading up to the vote, senators from both parties seem receptive to this change.

“After many positive, constructive conversations with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Sen. Duckworth is glad to be able to offer this legislation to ensure no senator with an infant is prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities — and send a message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” Kaitlin Fahey, Duckworth’s chief of staff, told CNN. “She is optimistic that this will be resolved quickly.”

Does it count as work/life balance if you’re bringing your baby to work? Hard to say. But paving the way for more women—and mothers, specifically—to raise kids while maintaining government jobs is a good place to start.

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