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First Senator to give birth in office: “I can’t take maternity leave”

First Senator to give birth in office: “I can’t take maternity leave”
[Photo: Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy/U.S. Army]

“I can’t technically take maternity leave,” says Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois). “Because if I take maternity leave, then I won’t be allowed to sponsor legislation or vote during that time period.”

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Duckworth, a former Black Hawk pilot who served in the Iraq War, spoke about a dilemma familiar to many working mothers in Politico’s Women Rule podcast.

Although she plans to take 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, the nature of her work means that she’ll need to return to work (likely with her newborn) during leave to vote on measures.  Her votes could make a big difference as Senate is currently split 51 to 49 with Democrats in the minority.

It’s going to change some Senate rules,” Duckworth said.

“You are not allowed to bring children onto the floor of the Senate at all,” Duckworth pointed out on the podcast. “If I have to vote, and I’m breastfeeding my child, especially during my maternity leave period, what do I do? Leave her sitting outside?”

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