The Senate's New Rule Change Is A Win For Working Parents Like Tammy Duckworth

"The Senate is leading by example."

Thanks to a unanimous rule change, senators will now be allowed to bring their children under 1 years old onto the Senate floor during votes. The change was proposed by Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who recently became the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.

When she announced her pregnancy in January, Duckworth shared her commitment to working parents, stressing, "Parenthood isn't just a women's issue, it's an economic issue and an issue that affects all parents — men and women alike."


Duckworth reiterated this sentiment in her response to the recent vote, saying the Senate is "leading by example and sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies," which "aren't just a women's issue, they are a common-sense economic issue."

The new rule change is no small feat. According to CNN, the last time the Senate granted additional floor privileges was for service dogs in 1977. Senators will also reportedly be allowed to breastfeed — something we've already seen politicians do in countries such as Australia

As NBC News points out, the Senate often votes late at night, with multiple votes back to back. Duckworth reportedly chose to take maternity leave in Washington, D.C., rather than Illinois, so she could be on hand to cast her vote. Now she and other parents don't have to choose between care for their babies and being present for these important decisions on the floor. 

As Duckworth's fellow Illinois senator, Dick Durbin, said, "Perhaps the cry of a baby will shock this Senate into speaking up and even crying out on the issues that confront our nation and world."

This is also an especially meaningful move for women in Congress, who are already underrepresented at 19.8 percent, with just 23 female senators. Duckworth is one of only 10 women in U.S. history to give birth as a sitting member of Congress.

As Sen. Amy Klobuchar of the Senate Rules Committee, who worked to get the resolution onto the floor, told CNN, "The Senate is steeped in tradition and just like the rest of the country, sometimes things have to change."


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