Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth went to Twitter to commemorate the historical event of bringing her week old daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, to the Senate floor. Armed with a baby blue sweater and white duckling onesie, Senator Duckworth let her followers on Twitter know she was prepared to bring her newborn to work.
The senator had given birth to Maile on the 9th of April, making her the first United States Senator to give birth while in office. The unique situation presented a question in regards to whether Senator Duckworth would be able to bring her little girl to the floor of the Senate. The senator asserted via Twitter that the senate allowing her baby’s presence on the Senate floor would set the example that “working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies.”
The Senate put the decision to a vote which ultimately passed though there was some opposition. Senator Orrin Hatch in particular was concerned about the precedent set, hypothesizing, “what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate”, which led to numerous jokes on Twitter.
Senator Duckworth herself ribbed the apprehension of her baby on the floor in her tweet with, “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.”
Other senators suggested that Senator Duckworth could care for Maile in the cloakroom next to the Senate floor and vote from the doorway if need be. Fellow Senator Amy Klobuchar pointed out the cloakroom is not wheelchair accessible for her fellow senator who lost both her legs while on a tour of duty in the Iraq War.
Senator Duckworth, in an official statement, thanked her colleagues, especially Senators Klobucher and Dick Durbin for “for helping bring the Senate into the 21st Century by recognizing that sometimes new parents also have responsibilities at work.”