'But What if There Are 10 Babies on Floor of the Senate?'

Senate unanimously votes to allow members' newborns, but not without some qualms
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2018 3:16 AM CDT
In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, Sen. Tammy Duckworth speaks to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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(Newser) – Who doesn't like babies? No one in the Senate, apparently—at least not enough to block a historic rules change that passed Wednesday allowing the newborns of members into the chamber. Its passage without objection came despite plenty of concern, some privately aired, among senators of both parties about the threat the tiny humans pose to the Senate's cherished decorum, the AP reports. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, the father of six, grandfather of 14, and great-grandfather of 23, said he had "no problem" with such a rules change. "But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?" he wondered.

The inspiration for the new rule is tiny Maile Pearl, born April 9 to Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth—the only sitting senator in US history to give birth. In a statement, Duckworth thanked her colleagues for "helping bring the Senate into the 21st Century by recognizing that sometimes new parents also have responsibilities at work." Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she spent weeks giving members of both parties private reassurances on issues like diaper changes and breastfeeding. Having 10 babies on the Senate floor, as Hatch suggested, "would be a delight," Klobuchar says, noting that it would probably mean more young senators had been elected in a body where the average age of members tops 60.

(Read more Senate stories.)

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