The U.S. Senate has seen filibusters and angry outbursts, gun play and impeachment trials and any number of outrageous votes. But now, it looks like it’s about to see something new: a member bringing a baby onto the floor with her.

That would be Illinois’ own Tammy Duckworth, whose office is confirming reports that senators soon will vote on a measure that would lift a decades-old rule preventing children under age one from being on the floor during a vote—presumably because of decorum, and not because kid never would grow up if he or she knew what actually was being approved by the majority.

“After many positive, constructive conversations with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Senator Duckworth is glad to be able to offer this legislation to ensure no senator with an infant is prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities—and send a message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” Duckworth Chief of Staff Kaitlin Fahey said in a statement. “She is optimistic that this will be resolved quickly.”

According to Duckworth’s office, the 19th century rule involved is aimed specifically not at mothers like her but at lobbyists, friends, fundraisers and other non-members of the Senate. Most of the time, non-members have floor access under only very limited circumstances. So young Duckworth needs a special rule to be with mom and not be considered an ordinary “non member.”

Duckworth, 50, already has made history as the first sitting senator to deliver a child, daughter Maile Pearl.

The senator seems perfectly fine with all of this. “I’m really much more calm than I was when I was in my 20s. It takes a lot more to fluster me,” she told a recent interviewer. “And I’m in a better place in my career. I’m in a good place where I have more authority, and I can look at my team and say, you know what? This is parent-teacher conference day. I’m going to it. I couldn’t have said that as a young platoon leader in the Army to my boss.”

But is the Senate ready—particularly if the kid gets hungry and nature takes its course? At least it will wake up some of the codgers.


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