It’s not every day that a 10-day-old infant makes history. But that’s what happened Thursday when Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, newborn daughter of Sen. Tammy Duckworth, was carried onto the Senate floor.
Maile, born April 9, became the first child permitted on the floor of the Senate under a rules change that allows children up to age 1 to accompany their parents to votes. Duckworth (D-Ill.) and her colleagues had pushed for flexibility so that members of the upper chamber — particularly women — who have children while in office can remain close to them while they’re infants.
The change, approved unanimously Wednesday, had been a source of debate on Capitol Hill as older members questioned how much the Senate needs to change to accommodate the rare female member — Duckworth was the first — who gives birth while in office.
Many observers, however, treated the development as a victory.
Duckworth was welcomed with applause when she entered the Senate chamber holding Maile. “It feels great,” she said before entering the Capitol building. “It’s about time. … I want to thank all my colleagues for the unanimous consent vote that we can do this.”
The senator was soon surrounded by colleagues cooing at the baby. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) gathered around, along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who helped usher in the rules change allowing for Maile to make her Senate floor debut.
Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also gave their best wishes, Schumer with a thumbs up and McConnell with a little wave.
“She’s wearing a blazer!” Klobuchar said of the baby, proving that even in the midst of change, some Senate traditions remain alive and well. Duckworth had tweeted about how she would dress the baby for the event:
Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis contributed.