The Senate approved the Illinois Democrat’s proposal to let senators to bring children under a year old to the floor during votes.
Here’s another first for the Senate’s resident ceiling-buster.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth will be the first senator to tote her newborn to the stodgy Senate floor after the governing body unanimously agreed on Wednesday night to allow all senators to bring in children under a year old during votes.
“I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, particularly those in leadership and on the Rules Committee, for helping bring the Senate into the 21st Century by recognizing that sometimes new parents also have responsibilities at work,” said Sen. Duckworth in a statement. She submitted the historic proposal after becoming the first Senator to give birth while in office last week.
“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 added. “These policies aren’t just a women’s issue, they are a common-sense economic issue.”
The Senate doesn’t allow telecommuting; every member must vote in person, the Associated Press noted. So Duckworth’s parent-friendly proposal has implications for a new generation of mothers and fathers to better balance their work and family responsibilities.
Duckworth’s chief of staff, Kaitlin Fahey, previously told Politico that the senator, “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.”
Members of both parties reportedly provided input on the resolution, introduced by Duckworth’s fellow Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.
Duckworth, also mother to a three-year-old daughter, last Monday welcomed newborn Maile Pearl Bowlsbey. As the first senator to give birth while serving — and previously one of a handful of House members to have a baby in office — she is now tasked with carving out family-friendly policies where she works. The Senate requires in-person votes but currently forbids small children; due to conflict of interest rules, Politico reported, Duckworth wouldn’t be able to simply pass her baby to a staffer.
“You are not allowed to bring children onto the floor of the Senate at all,” Duckworth told the outlet prior to her second daughter’s birth. “If I have to vote, and I’m breastfeeding my child, especially during my maternity leave period, what do I do? Leave her sitting outside?”
Duckworth, a vocal advocate for policies to benefit working moms, has also persisted in pushing for an overhaul of America’s paid family leave.
“Even as countries across the globe prioritize family-friendly policies for the workplace, the U.S. remains one of the few industrialized nations that doesn’t offer paid parental or family leave,” she wrote in a Moneyish op-ed to mark International Women’s Day. “Too often, this lack of family-friendly policies forces working parents to decide between taking care of a sick family member or their kids and potentially losing their job and their health insurance.”
This story was originally published on April 17, 2018, and has been updated with the new Senate rule.
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