Democrats create Dads Caucus in the House : NPR
California Rep. Jimmy Gomez captured national attention as the House suffered 15 votes to elect a speaker earlier this month, but not how he voted. It was for carrying her baby into the room while the rounds lasted several days.
Gomez brought along his infant son Hodge to witness the unfolding of historic events. A few weeks later, without a baby in hand, Gomez launched the Congressional Dads Caucus. While lawmakers have traditionally brought their children to witness the first days of a new Congress and many are parents, it’s rare to see a baby on the floor of the house or a lawmaker wearing one, especially a father. .
Speaking at a press conference this week announcing the new band, Gomez said he believed his son’s appearance with him at his workplace “has made visible the role of working dads across the country”.
“We want to show not just interest, but also advocacy on issues that affect working parents,” he said.
Other lawmakers before Gomez brought their young parents with them to work. On one of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s first days as Speaker of the House in 2007, her grandchildren arrived on the House floor with her. In a memorable moment, she accepted a gavel from Representative John Boehner along with the children and grandchildren of other lawmakers who surrounded her. In 2018, the Senate voted unanimously to change its rules so that Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth could bring her newborn daughter to a floor vote.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Women — even those in Congress — are often the ones with a lot of parenting responsibilities. Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center before the COVID-19 pandemic found that women were more likely than their spouses to say they took on a greater responsibility when it came to parenting. In another Pew survey conducted in October 2020, a few months after the start of the pandemic, working mothers were more likely than working fathers to say that their work-life balance had become more difficult since the start of the pandemic. .
“Dads need to do their part to advance policies that will make a difference in the lives of so many parents across the country,” Gomez said.
Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, who joined Gomez in forming the caucus, said men have a role to play in supporting policies that help working families.
“(Women legislators) deserve extraordinary credit, but they should also be able to count on male legislators to be partners in their fight from the start,” Castro said.
“As a father of three young children, I look forward to using this caucus to help find real solutions that have eluded us in the past.”
Launched alongside other Democrats, including Representatives Andy Kim and Dan Goldman, Gomez said the caucus will focus on key policy proposals such as expanding the child tax credit, national paid family leave and the funding for child care programs.
While baby Hodge missed the press conference because he was back in Los Angeles with his mother, Gomez told NPR that he and his wife are trying to make parenthood work “as best we can, like other working parents”. Gomez explained her family’s daycare situation, saying they had a caregiver come in three days a week, but were still looking for help to cover the other two days of the work week.
A missing key factor: bipartisanship
Many Dads Caucus policy proposals are also Democratic priorities, but after the November election, Democrats lost control of the House.
“I haven’t contacted any Republicans yet,” Gomez said, adding that he wanted to start with a core group of House Democrats. “We’re going to invite more Democrats to join us and they’re going to have to reach out starting with some key committees.”
He noted that Ways and Means was one of the House committees where he wanted to target potential new members.
But he acknowledged the political differences between Democrats and Republicans.
“I come from a school of thought that we’re not going to wait for bipartisanship to start advocating on an issue,” he said.
But without Republicans on board, Democratic efforts are unlikely to make progress in the House.