Poor Orrin Hatch. The guy makes one crack about swarms of infants overrunning the Senate, and suddenly he’s the laughingstock of Twitter.
“But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?” the Utah Republican mused last week, as senators dealt with a resolution allowing lawmakers to bring their offspring, aged one year or younger, onto the floor.
The resolution was being pushed by Maile Pearl Bowlsbey—or, more accurately, by her mom, Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth. On April 9, Duckworth became the first sitting U.S. senator to give birth. The following week, she needed to be on the floor to cast a vote, and she wanted to keep wee Maile close at hand. (Ah, doting parents.) To accommodate Duckworth, the Senate first had to relax its rules, which it did on Wednesday by unanimous consent.
When Maile made her debut Thursday (duckie-print onesie, pink cap, aqua sweater), lawmakers cooed and clucked. Even Mitch McConnell reportedly cracked a smile. But make no mistake: This historic moment took some doing. Unanimous consent aside, there were months of negotiations and enduring apprehension over the rule change, especially among—how to put this delicately—some of the more mature lawmakers. A few voiced their skepticism publicly, others more privately. Amy Klobuchar, who, as ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, had been asked by Duckworth months ago to arrange the change, acknowledged after the vote that, for weeks and weeks, she had been fielding colleagues’ concerns about everything from breastfeeding to poopy nappies.