The woman primed to become the first sitting senator to give birth in office wants to change Senate rules to better accommodate future mothers.
In an interview that aired Wednesday on Politico’s “Women Rule” podcast, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, opened up about the challenges she prepares to face in raising a newborn while continuing her senatorial duties. She is expecting her second child in the spring.
“I’m even being told right now that I can’t technically take maternity leave,” Duckworth said, “because if I take maternity leave, then I won’t be allowed to sponsor legislation or vote during that time period.”
She vowed some Senate rules will change “because I’m going to make sure” they change, she said, “so that other legislators behind me can continue to do their jobs but also look after their families.”
One potential Senate rule she highlighted was that children are not allowed on the Senate floor.
“If I have to vote, and I’m breastfeeding my child, especially during my maternity leave period, what do I do?” she asked. “Leave her sitting outside?”
“I can’t leave her with a staff member,” she continued. “That’s a conflict of interest, so am I allowed to vote? Can I not do my job?”
Duckworth said fellow congressional members, both Democrats and Republicans, have been “fantastic” in light of the pregnancy, calling it “almost a uniting piece of news.”
“I think we’ve all been hungering for something non-partisan,” she said.
Duckworth also said she was surprised the January announcement was treated as a big deal.
“It’s ridiculous that it’s 2018 and this became big news,” she said.
She is one of only 10 women who have given birth while serving in Congress. Her office told CNN last month she is due in late April.