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The Concerns of the World’s Worst Deliberative Body

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Vice President Joe Biden reacts with Abigail O’kalani Bowlsbey, in the arms of her mother, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., after a mock swearing in ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth recently had a baby. That has led to what is evidently a serious issue for the Senate–will babies be allowed on the Senate floor. And you may not be surprised that old white men are nervous about it.

No one in the Senate, apparently — at least not enough to block a historic rules change that passed Wednesday allowing the newborns of members into the chamber. Its passage without objection came despite plenty of concern, some privately aired, among senators of both parties about the threat the tiny humans pose to the Senate’s cherished decorum.

“I’m not going to object to anything like that, not in this day and age,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., father of three and grandfather of six. He then noted that a person can stand in the door of the cloakroom, a lounge just off the chamber, and vote. “I’ve done it,” he said. Allowing babies on the Senate floor, he said, “I don’t think is necessary.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the father of six, grandfather of 14 and great-grandfather of 23, said he had “no problem” with such a rules change. “But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?” he asked.

Then that would be great?

Sen. Tom Cotton, father of two, said he has no problem with the rule change. But the Arkansas Republican acknowledged that some of his colleagues do, “so the cloakroom might be a good compromise.”

Klobuchar’s answer to that suggestion noted that Duckworth lost both legs and partial use of an arm in Iraq, and mostly gets around by wheelchair.

“Yes, you can vote from the doorway of the cloakroom, but how is she going to get to the cloakroom when it’s not wheelchair accessible?” she asked. Some senators proposed making an exception for Duckworth. But her allies said the Senate should make work easier for new parents. “We believe strongly, and she did, that it should be a permanent rules change.”

Having 10 babies on the Senate floor, as Hatch suggested, “would be a delight,” Klobuchar said.

There was more, voiced privately, Klobuchar said — including whether Duckworth intended to change Maile’s diaper or nurse her new baby on the Senate floor.

While this may not be the most important story of our day, it is one that reflects how the concerns of old white men about that the womenz and their little critters are doing are generally really stupid. But because they are old white men, these concerns get taken seriously.

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