Home IT management While Mom And Dad Fight Over A Speaker, House Members’ Kids Build Solo Cup Towers

While Mom And Dad Fight Over A Speaker, House Members’ Kids Build Solo Cup Towers

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While Mom And Dad Fight Over A Speaker, House Members’ Kids Build Solo Cup Towers

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When Nancy Pelosi called the House to order in 2019 “on behalf of all America’s children,” she was surrounded by the children and grandchildren of Congress. This week, members’ offspring were shoved to the side as moms and dads in the Republican-led House continued fighting over who would lead them.

It’s common on the first day of a new Congress for family members to be present on the House floor. As the speaker stalemate dragged on for a third day with no resolution in sight—Kevin McCarthy lost his 10th bid for the role Thursday evening–members and their kids are beginning to wear the looks of frustration and fatigue on their faces.

For lawmakers with children, the labor of parenting in America is spilling over into the halls—and offices—of Congress. Michigan’s Representative-elect Hillary Scholten said her sons and their cousins have “taken over” her congressional office and are trying to entertain themselves as best as they can. “I believe they are currently competing to see who can build the tallest Solo cup tower on my desk,” she said.

The House chamber is hardly a space designed for families—until 2011, there weren’t even women’s restrooms on the House floor—and parents are having to make do. Images from TV and Twitter are showing just how members of Congress are coping while juggling parenting duties during long days of voting.

According to several tweets from lawmakers and their spouses, the House cloakrooms on both sides of the aisle became makeshift huddle spaces for families between votes.

C-SPAN, which retains control over its House cameras until a new speaker is declared, has also panned to scenes of worn-out kids in the chamber.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, who has represented California’s 34th congressional district since 2017, has been particularly visible as both a congressman and a dad this week. Since Tuesday, Gomez been interviewed on TV and cast his votes for speaker while wearing a baby carrier with his son on his chest, declaring, “on behalf of my son Hodge and all the working families who need an expanded child tax credit, I cast my vote for Hakeem Jeffries.”

According to Liuba Grechen Shirley, founder and CEO of Vote Mama, a political action committee seeking to elect Democratic moms, as the days drag on, some members-elect are beginning to doubt how realistic it will be to have their families by their side when they are finally sworn in. “We are seeing in real time why Congress feels so inaccessible to parents with minor children,” Grechen Shirley said.

“There is no normal schedule, no consideration for how voting stalemates may impact childcare, and seemingly no concern about how parents are supposed to remain on-call for however long this vote may take,” she said. “The reality is, the system was not designed to support parents with minor children. The House speaker hold-up is a glaring example of how elected leaders are supposed to compartmentalize their role as parents in order to be taken seriously as legislators.”

Rep. Grace Meng of New York said her workdays in Washington, “are planned down to the minute.” Now, the disruption to her congressional schedule is being felt by her family as well. “In the past three days, I have had to rearrange pick-up and drop-off times for my children at school. I’ve missed school events, kids’ basketball games and helping my sons with school projects.”

Representative-elect Brittany Pettersen of Colorado is one of several members of the 118th Congress who have been forced to give up on swearing in alongside her family. “As a state legislator, I’m used to long days and an unpredictable schedule, but this is especially disappointing because I couldn’t wait to hold my son on the floor of the House when I was sworn in,” Pettersen said. “He’s now back in Colorado with my husband, and who knows when I will ultimately be sworn in.”

Representative-elect Sydney Kamlager of California, who also came to Congress with her family, is likewise frustrated. “The swearing-in ceremony is supposed to be an incredible memory, not just for the new member of Congress but for their families as well,” she said.

According to Kamlager, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries held a ceremonial photo session for Democrats on Wednesday night as representatives continued to wait for an official swearing-in ceremony. “It makes me feel better to know my son left with that memory,” Kamlager said.

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