Dressed in a duckling onesie and dapper blazer (complying with the Senate dress code), Ms. Maile Pearl Bowlsbey made history last week as the first baby to enter the Senate chamber. Maile, daughter of Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, was allowed on the chamber floor thanks, in part, to a petition started by Oak Parker Rachel Pike-Norton, who challenged a Senate rule that prohibited children less than a year old from entering sanctuary. Pike-Norton said the rule was ridiculously outdated, sent a terrible signal to employers, and prevented Sen. Duckworth from casting votes and doing her job.

“In 230 years Senator Duckworth is the first senator to give birth while in office, and as an Illinois voter and mom of two adorable kids, including a newborn, it makes me so proud,” Pike-Norton wrote in her online petition, started April 10, the day after Maile was born.

“We urge you to make the Senate more welcoming to senators who are new parents, by allowing these senators to take paid family leave and not be physically present for votes, and to bring their babies to the floor within the first year of the child’s life,” the petition reads.

Sponsored by the nonprofit Paid Leave for the United States, more than 20,000 people signed Pike-Norton’s online petition, which was addressed to Senate Chairman Richard Shelby, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and all members of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. On April 18, the group unanimously approved a resolution that allows senators to bring their babies into the chamber.

Sen. Duckworth brought Maile to the chamber the next day.

“Yesterday’s rule change may only apply to the Senate, but I hope it can serve as a message that working families across America deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” Duckworth tweeted that day.

Nona Tepper

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