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In her latest book, “The Joy of Politics: Surviving Cancer, a Campaign, a Pandemic, an Insurrection, and Life’s Other Unexpected Curveballs” (St. Martin’s Press), Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar explores the turbulence that has marked her political life in Washington, D.C., and her personal life, as she confronts threats to both the health of her family and the health of democracy.
In this excerpt, the senator writes about one of her accomplishments as part of the Senate Rules Committee: getting new mom Tammy Duckworth (and all moms and dads after her) permission to bring their babies onto the Senate floor.
Read the excerpt below, and don’t miss Sen. Klobuchar on “CBS Sunday Morning” May 14!
“The Joy of Politics” by Amy Klobuchar
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Getting approval for babies on the Senate floor was by far the most fun. And it wasn’t easy. Tammy Duckworth—the Democratic senator from Illinois who lost both of her legs in a helicopter crash serving our country in Iraq—came to me before the birth of her second daughter to seek permission to bring her soon-to-be-born baby to the Senate floor in the event there were late votes or she had to keep the baby on a feeding schedule.
“No problem,” I said.
Months later, Tammy was, well, even more pregnant (surprise!), and I had encountered all kinds of passive resistance. Apparently the senators had allowed a dog on the floor once, but no kids.
I finally took to humor. When Senator Orrin Hatch told a group of reporters, “Maybe it’s okay to have this baby on the floor, but what if we have ten babies on the floor,” I responded, “We already have ten babies on the floor.” (That happened.)
Then, after sitting behind several senior male senators at a classified briefing and tapping them on the shoulders and asking them in a loud whisper if it was true they had a problem with breastfeeding (red faces all around), I finally channeled Dr. Seuss and came up with a jingle to make my point:
She’s not going to change the diaper on the floor;
She won’t be breastfeeding by the door.
She’s not going to change the baby in the House;
She’ll be as quiet as a mouse.
She won’t burp the baby at work;
Stop being such a jerk.
Bingo. That worked. We passed the rules change. And one day during a close vote, the fifty-year-old veteran wheeled herself onto the Senate floor with six-week-old Maile Pearl on her lap. Tammy made sure the baby was all decked out in a little green suit so as to not violate the Senate dress code. The reporters oohed and aahed from the gallery above. Many were tearing up.
I was sitting with Mitch McConnell. “This is the moment,” I said. “What do you mean?” he asked. “This is the moment when you and I and Chuck and Roy go down and greet the baby. Since I made this change as an ode to the modern era and you agreed to it, we may as well own it.”
“In all my years campaigning,” he said, “I’ve never kissed a baby.”
“I don’t think that needs to happen,” I said. “You just need to greet the baby.”
And he did.
From “The Joy of Politics: Surviving Cancer, a Campaign, a Pandemic, an Insurrection, and Life’s Other Unexpected Curveballs” by Amy Klobuchar. Copyright © 2023 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
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“The Joy of Politics” by Amy Klobuchar
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“The Joy of Politics: Surviving Cancer, a Campaign, a Pandemic, an Insurrection, and Life’s Other Unexpected Curveballs” by Amy Klobuchar (St. Martin’s Press), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formatsSenator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
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