10-day-old Maile, the newborn daughter of US Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, made history in the US Senate last month as the first baby allowed on the Senate floor during a vote.
The epic moment, made possible by a recent law change, paved the way for other Senators to bring their babies to work in the future.
Working parents often struggle to juggle the demands of new parenthood with their professional commitments, but this law change is making the balance a little easier for Senators.
The move has attracted a lot of media attention, and it is hoped this family-friendly attitude will be adopted by other employers in the US.
10 Day Old Baby Makes History In The US Senate
Currently, women are entitled to just 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave in the US. While some women work for companies that offer more attractive maternity packages, others struggle to cover the cost of their unpaid leave.
For parents who return to work soon after the birth, having the option to take their baby with them might help to ease the transition back into work.
The change to the law was approved unanimously the evening before Maile made her public debut in the Senate. The change allows Senators to bring babies under 12 months of age into the Senate and breastfeed them during debates.
Before the law was changed, parents were unable to take babies into the Senate. This policy particularly affected breastfeeding mothers, who might have found it nearly impossible to leave their breastfed baby, in order to sit in on a debate or vote.
Senator Duckworth released a statement after the law change saying:
“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.
“By ensuring that no Senators 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. These policies aren’t just a women’s issue, they are a common-sense economic issue”.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) added: “Being a parent is a difficult job, and the Senate rules shouldn’t make it any harder”.
Before the vote, Senator Duckworth tweeted a photo of her daughter’s onesie along with the caption:
“May have to vote today. Maile’s outfit is prepped. Made sure she has a jacket so she doesn’t violate the Senate floor dress code requiring blazers. Not sure what the policy is on duckling onesies but I think we’re ready”.
Unsurprisingly, her adorable tweet went viral with over 28,000 people liking it. The new family-friendly policy garnered approval from people across party lines.
One person tweeted back, “Sweet outfit for a sweet baby! So proud you are my Senator! Keep hitting that glass ceiling and showing what an intelligent, determined woman can do!”
Another said, “Thank you for making the Senate update its policies for everyone with an infant, regardless of their gender. That’s not insignificant. And thank you for continuing to serve Illinois so soon after giving birth. I’m proud that you represent me”.
One user shared a trip down memory lane: “28 years ago, I nursed my baby at a few Board and Bar Ass’n meetings. People still remember and mention it. We must have progressed if the Senate will allow it. My hope is that soon it isn’t noticed or remembered, just an ordinary event. Thanks for your part in making it happen”.
One used replied, “Your presence on the Senate floor with Maile sends a powerful message. Thank you!”
Another tweeted, “As an Illinois voter, and a veteran, I may not always agree with you but I support you in this 100%”.
In true newborn style, Maile slept through the whole thing, proving babies in the Senate aren’t going to cause much disruption to proceedings.
This isn’t the first time baby Maile has broken convention. When she was born earlier this month, she was also the first baby born to a serving US Senator.
Talk about a trailblazer! Just 10 days old and already causing a stir in the political world.