Tammy Duckworth brought her 10-day-old daughter Maile Pearl Bowlsbey to work today—and made history as the first sitting US senator to do so. For that to be possible, the Senate had to vote to change its rules to allow babies on the floor, which required getting straight answers to a series of tough questions, such as whether the Illinois senator planned to change her baby’s diaper, or breastfeed, while in session.
All was cleared (the rule change was voted unanimously), and today (Apr. 19) the senator and Iraq war veteran could roll into the chamber carrying her baby, in order to vote against Trump’s proposed NASA nominee. Both the senator and her newborn were dressed for the occasion:
Despite the initial skepticism, the Senate and its staff reacted to the sight just like any other workplace would—that is to say, it melted. True to the scientific finding that no drug is as powerful as a newborn to turn even the stiffest, most cynical human beings into gooey balls of incoherent, baby excitement, little Maile and her mother were welcomed with great joy. “She’s coming, she’s coming,” senator Claire McCaskill reportedly said as the anticipation built—causing even senator Mitch McConnell to crack a smile.
As Duckworth made her entrance, ecstatic female senators and staffers got close to the baby and went straight in for some gentle cuddling, while a (bipartisan) group of well-meaning men stood close by, staring in adoration while classically keeping an awkward distance.
It was a most heartwarming moment, and a uniquely special one: It’s not every day you see an elected official, or a war hero, going back to work just days after giving birth and winning a formal rule change so that the child could accompany her in her arms.
Incidentally, this is not the first of Duckworth’s children to get into the senate: Her older daughter, Abigail, accompanied her for a rehearsal swearing-in ahead of Duckworth’s formal swearing-in in January 2017.
This story is part of How We’ll Win, a project exploring the fight for gender equality at work. Read more stories here.