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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has broken so many barriers and notched so many firsts in her career: the first Asian-American elected to Congress from Illinois, first woman with a disability to be elected to Congress, the first female double amputee in the Senate, and the first member of Congress born in Thailand.
So perhaps it was fitting that last year Duckworth became the first senator to give birth while in office, to a daughter, Maile.
Soon after little Maile’s birth, Senate rules were changed so as to allow infants under one year of age to be allowed on the Senate floor so as to be breastfed.
The day after the rule change, young Maile became the first baby brought onto the Senate floor.
Duckworth wants to bring that sort of added assistance to all new mothers with a piece of new legislation she is co-sponsoring.
Duckworth joined Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in introducing the Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act, which would help ensure new parents have access to clean and private lactation rooms when visiting federal buildings around the nation.
Duckworth says that the new bill would build on the success of her FAM Act, which was signed into law last year and ensures all large- and medium-sized airports have lactation rooms for new mothers.
“Breastfeeding has long-lasting health benefits that protect mothers and children from illnesses, which is why we should continue to build on the progress made by the FAM Act in making it easier for moms and children to find clean and accessible spaces to express breastmilk,” says Duckworth. “I’m pleased to join Senator Daines in introducing this bipartisan legislation requiring these spaces in all public federal buildings.”
The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act would require that federal buildings that are open to the public and contain a public restroom provide a lactation room, other than a bathroom, that is hygienic and is available for use by members of the public who are breastfeeding.
According to the legislation, the lactation room must be shielded from view, be free from intrusion, and contain a chair, a working surface, and–if the building is supplied with electricity–an electrical outlet.
“Mothers who are breastfeeding should have a private, clean, and safe place to go in federal buildings,” Daines says. “This bill provides this important resource to new moms.”