Duckworth broke a baby barrier for women on both sides of the aisle

Duckworth broke a baby barrier for women on both sides of the aisle
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDems should run as economic progressives, says ex-Obama strategist Democrats must reconcile party factions to raise blue wave odds Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (D-Ill.) and her newborn daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, both made history this month. Duckworth became the first senator to give birth while in office, and Maile became the first newborn allowed onto the Senate floor during a vote.

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Before her daughter’s birth, there was no protocol for bringing newborns onto the Senate floor. But Senate Resolution 463 was agreed to by unanimous consent on April 18, changing the Senate rules to allow for a senator to bring a child under 1 year of age onto the floor during votes.

Prior to her first trip to the floor last week, Duckworth tweeted a picture of her daughter’s outfit for the occasion:  

That tweet got more than 100,000 likes, and it’s no surprise that all 100 senators agreed to accommodate their colleague from Illinois and change the rules. But this change demonstrates the growing recognition that women should have the chance to build the kind of life they want to build. Being a mom and voting in the Senate shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. And now they aren’t.

Bringing a newborn to the floor (who will likely be sleeping) will cause minimal disruption and allow Duckworth to do her job.

Voting is one of the essential duties of a senator. And a senator’s voting record, not only substantively how they vote, but also if they vote or not, is a typical election issue. Missing a vote, even for the wonderful reason of having a newborn, likely would hurt Duckworth’s chances of keeping her job.

Duckworth doesn’t usually vote the way I’d like her to, but I don’t want her to lose her job because her newborn caused her to miss votes. I’d rather help defeat her on the issues.

Showing up is an important part of work. While many places have moved away from strict “face time” requirements, there are times when it is necessary to show up. This is particularly difficult for new moms who are nursing. One way to make it easier on them is to foster a culture that welcomes moms to bring newborns to meetings, events, or in this case, votes.

Let’s not forget that most Americans want children. According to a 2013 Gallup report, “More than nine in 10 adults say they already have children, are planning to have children, or wish that they had had children.” In this case, policies that are friendly to newborns will help almost everyone.

The question should be if this policy change goes far enough. A senator certainly could, for example, give a speech holding or wearing a newborn.

While Republicans and Democrats in the Senate disagree on equal pay legislation, paid leave, and a whole host of other issues, this is a victory for women across party lines and one we should all celebrate. While this rule won’t impact most Americans, those women who want to be a senator and care for a young child are better able to do so.

Karin Lips is the founder and president of Network of Enlightened Women, an organization working to educate the next generation of women leaders on conservative principles. Follow her on Twitter @KarinAgness.