The House Floor Was Filled With Children Today & It Was Incredibly Cool
Today, the 116th Congress was sworn in, and it was a beautiful thing to see. In addition to seeing Nancy Pelosi reclaim that Speaker gavel (and Hakeem Jeffries’ moving speech officially nominating her), there were a lot of powerful moments in this swearing in of the most diverse group in the history of the House.
— Rachel R. Gonzalez (@RachelRGonzalez) January 3, 2019
For me, the coolest part of the day was seeing the House floor filled with children. Now, this isn’t a new thing. Children under the age of 12 have been able to accompany lawmakers on the floor for the opening day ceremonies for quite some time. But given the amount of attention that’s been on the unprecedented number of women entering Congress this year and the changes that have to be made to make politics more accessible for parents, it was really moving to see such a huge number of kids present today.
I ran for Congress so our nation’s children would have a brighter future and follow their dreams. An unforgettable honor to be on the House Floor with my daughter Violette. Time to get to work for #VA02! pic.twitter.com/4oNZTMJcox
— Congresswoman Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) January 3, 2019
Nancy Pelosi stands to cast her vote to become House Speaker, with an assist from excited children by her side pic.twitter.com/MLYoH0EaHR
— POLITICO (@politico) January 3, 2019
— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 3, 2019
— Al Drago (@Al_Drago) January 3, 2019
It wasn’t just women in Congress who had their children with them, either.
Are you seeing all these dads (Members of Congress) with their kids?! A recent study found that the majority of men consider parenthood as central to their identity, are doing more childcare than ever before, and the rates of stay-at-home fathers are climbing! 👨👧👦 #116thCongress pic.twitter.com/yiKDTn6XEg
— PL+US (@PaidLeaveUS) January 3, 2019
Men’s involvement in childcare is essential to the fight for gender parity, and it’s absolutely beautiful to see so many fathers bring their kids onto the House floor on a day like this.
Across the aisle from this joyful celebration was a different scene, though. Now, I know Republicans lost their majority and they have to be bummed about that, but still, the difference in the tones is striking. This is what the other side of the room looked like:
The visual disparity in the House chamber right now is stark…on the Republican side, a lot of black suits and red ties, on the Democratic side, a lot of bright dresses and young children #116thCongress
— Saher Khan (@SaherMKhan) January 3, 2019
On GOP side of House chamber today there are more female children of members than there are female members of Congress.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) January 3, 2019
Earlier this year, the Senate voted to allow newborns on the Senate floor after Sen. Tammy Duckworth became the first Senator to give birth while in office. The lawmakers have to be physically present to participate in votes and those schedules often don’t allow time for new mothers to feed infants. That wasn’t the kind of thing Senators had to think about when they made those rules but as more and more women enter politics, those old practices become inadvertently discriminatory and they have to change.
The House, though, already allows children under 12 on the floor, not just on the first day, but apparently all the time. They just have to be accompanied by a Member. With so many women joining the ranks of the House–some of them mothers, and some single mothers at that–it will be interesting to see how the dynamic on that floor changes.
(image: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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