Democratic Illinois Senator, and decorated war hero Tammy Duckworth made history twice recently. First, she became the first sitting Senator in US history to become pregnant while serving. Then, predictably, she had the privilege of becoming the first sitting US Senator to give birth and become a mother while serving. A nice, if minor feel good story in the rancorous world of partisan politics.
But for a sitting US Senator, motherhood brings more challenges than just 3 am feedings and diapers that require EPA containment. There is a rule in the United States Senate that prohibits babies on the floor of the Senate during sessions. It didn’t take Senator Duckworth long to figure out that this might be a problem. According to Mother Jones;
“If I have to vote, and I’m breastfeeding my child, especially during my maternity leave period, what do I do? Leave her sitting outside?”
Of course not! Although, when her daughter gets older, her mind can certainly rest more at ease knowing that Roy Moore is not a colleague. But it was still a challenge, and Senator Duckworth used to fly helicopters in combat, so Duckworth set out to fix it. And fix it she did. Late Wednesday night, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution allowing infants on the floor during votes. Motherhood wins over all!
But, what good is being a dick, if you never get the chance to show your moves? And it turns out that GOP Kansas Senator Pat Roberts has a beauty of a move he’s been practicing late at night when nobody is watching. And this was the perfect time to spotlight it. While he voted for the resolution, Roberts just couldn’t resist grousing about it afterwards;
“I’m not going to object to anything like that, not in this day and age,” Sen. Pat Roberts, (R-Kan.) told the AP.
But he pointed out that Senators can vote from inside the door of the cloakroom, just off the Senate chamber.
So allowing babies on the Senate floor, Roberts said, “I don’t think is necessary.”
What?!? OK, I’m glad that Senator Roberts at least has some sense of situational recognition. He realizes that soon all congress critters, along with their staff, are going to have to snooze through recurrent sexual harassment training, and that he’s going to have to drop his own dime if he gets too frisky with a staffer, so he gets it that voting “no” on the resolution would be a bridge too far, even for a dick like him. But really? Jam her in the Senate cloakroom with her child? What is this, 1885? I’ve heard the phrase “slut shaming” before, and “weight shaming,” but as far as I know, Senator Roberts has just made Senate history himself. This is the first known example of “mother shaming!”
To paraphrase astronaut Neil Armstrong when he set foot on the moon, “That’s one small step for woman, and one giant leap for dickkind.” Nice going, moron!
*Update* MSNBC just showed a video clip of Senator Duckworth, who is still on maternity leave, showing up on Capitol Hill with her newborn daughter to cast a vote, something she could not have done yesterday. I hope Senator Roberts doesn’t have a nervous breakdown!