New rule allows newborn babies on Senate floor

Casey Dawson
April 20, 2018

Pat Roberts, R-Kan., father of three and grandfather of six.

But he pointed out that Senators can vote from inside the door of the cloakroom, just off the Senate chamber. "I've done it", he said.

Newborn babies will be allowed on the Senate floor, following a request from Sen.

"Originally it was created to not slow down debate", Lankford said of the rules. "But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?" he asked. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said some of that slow evolution might be because Duckworth is the first senator to ever give birth while in office.

Their concerns and more were shared by Republicans and Democrats, according to interviews Wednesday.

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Senator Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said, "Every day moms and dads balance being great parents and successful professionals, and workplaces need to recognize that reality". That means gay male senators have room to take care of their children in the Senate chamber as well, assuring LGBTQ families aren't left out from the change. So Duckworth raised a rare question that split her colleagues more along generational lines than well-worn partisan ones. In 1977, The last time the official rules were changed about who or what could come on to the floor, it was to allow service dogs. But the Arkansas Republican acknowledged that some of his colleagues do, "so the cloakroom might be a good compromise". Some senators proposed making an exception for Duckworth. Duckworth's pregnancy highlighted the complexities Senate rules pose for new parents. "We wanted it to be permanent and she wanted it to be permanent, so it would help other women", and particularly encourage people with children, and women of child-bearing age, to join the Senate.

"We could only wish we had 10 babies on the floor", Klobuchar fired back.

Some reporters in the press gallery peering down at the floor action even let out audible coos, prompting Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to gaze upward and quip: "The press is finally interested in something worthwhile". Duckworth has not been present in Senate votes since the birth of her daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, earlier this month.

"She will bring the baby somewhere else if it is crying", Klobuchar said.

"Being a parent is a difficult job, and the Senate rules shouldn't make it any harder", said Sen.

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