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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) recently became the first senator to give birth while in office. She also wanted bring her newborn daughter into the Senate during voting periods. Now, thanks to her own proposal, the Senate unanimously voted on Wednesday to end a ban on babies within the chamber.
However, some Republican men aren’t happy with the idea.
Duckworth’s resolution comes from nearly two months’ worth of private interviews between Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and senators across party lines; apparently Klobchar had to privately insist that nursing and changing diapers wouldn’t happen on the Senate floor, according to the New York Times. Yet Congressmen still remained concerned that newborns could impact “Senate decorum,” and two Republican senators even expressed their complaints publicly: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Hatch in particular argued that he had “no problem” with the idea, yet he seemed concerned over logistically implementing it.
“But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?” he asked, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“We could only wish we had 10 babies on the floor,” Klobuchar fired back. “That would be a delight.”
The internet has since criticized Hatch for his hesitation, pointing out that caring for newborns is a natural part of life that can’t necessarily be interrupted just for “Senate decorum.” And besides, if more babies were in the Senate chamber, that means younger senators (particularly young mothers) are most likely entering the legislative body, which means more representation for American women, parents, and young voters in their 20s and 30s.
Sen. Orrin Hatch: “But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?"— Elizabeth Dias (@elizabethjdias) April 19, 2018
What if there were? https://t.co/49edpjKsB7
If there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate, then we, as a society, have advanced.— Other Brother (@DarrylToo) April 19, 2018
Someone please buy that baby a onesie with a giant middle finger on it and position her right in front of Orrin Hatch on the Senate floor. https://t.co/YDKrUYof0a— Lily Herman (@lkherman) April 19, 2018
Regarding @SenDuckworth able to bring baby to the floor, Sen. Orrin Hatch: “But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?"— PA progressive (@brenner0707) April 19, 2018
Old men just don't get it because they think women should be at home with the kids. Obama saw it the way most Americans see it. pic.twitter.com/GMtC2EvLYF
If there are 10 babies on the floor of the senate it constitutes a Baby Quorum and they can form their own Baby Senate. https://t.co/pFn73Ncasb— Dara Lind (@DLind) April 19, 2018
Eventually, Hatch’s office turned to Twitter, admitting that 10 babies in the Senate “would be a wonderful thing.”
It would be a wonderful thing. Senator Hatch supported the change.— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) April 19, 2018
In better news, Duckworth also worded the proposal with gender-neutral terminology. 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.
The Senate still a good ole Boys Club! Memo to male leadership:someday a Senator may want paternal leave or maybe a gay male Senator wants to take family leave: issues arising due to Tammy Duckworths new baby#NoRedRobes#HandmaidsTale#WomenInCongress https://t.co/EjUYEKyJrq— Kristen's Kulture (@paz4u) April 17, 2018
I love the idea of one half of a Male same sex couple bringing their new born to the Senate. Or maybe both are senators.— Diane (@SAHMof3DSSPSA) April 19, 2018
Ten babies would mean 10 more young mothers or fathers in the Senate, which would be a good thing.— AllisonMY (@AllisonMY) April 19, 2018
And of course heaven forbid that a father might be the one primarily responsible for a baby and so needing to bring that baby onto the Senate floor— there's no L in Tyer (@RoryTyer) April 19, 2018
Senators who are new mothers or fathers shouldn’t have to choose between caring for infants and performing their Constitutional duty. Glad the Senate passed @SenDuckworth’s resolution. Maile Pearl, welcome to the world—and welcome to the United States Senate. https://t.co/6q5SmzfLBf— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) April 19, 2018
Some senators don’t understand the fuss at all and believe there were already children on the Senate floor before the proposal passed.
“Why would I object to it?” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) quipped, the Tribune reports. “We have plenty of babies on the floor.”
If Rubio is any indicator, there’s some truth to that claim.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.