WASHINGTON: Moms tend to do the lion’s share of child care, but some male members of the US House of Representatives are pulling their weight this week as the chaotic vote for House Speaker has dragged on for days.
Democrats Jimmy Gómez of California and Joaquin Castro of Texas were among the members of Congress who brought their babies with them to a swearing-in ceremony for the 118th Congress that has yet to materialize. And since Tuesday, they’ve been candid about turning parts of the Capitol building into makeshift child-care rooms for their infant children, documenting bottle feeds, diaper changes and stroller walks.
Salud Carbajal, a Democrat from California, called the Democratic cloak room “a great spot for Congress-dads” to share advice when he posted a photo of Castro and Gomez with their children, Anna Valentina and Hodge, respectively.

Castro’s wife Anna Flores and two other children joined him for Tuesday’s events, but he and Anna Valentina flew solo for part of Wednesday. The eight-month-old did well for the most part, Castro told Bloomberg News, but that he did have to change her on a bathroom floor at one point. He’s going to lobby for Congress to install baby-changing tables in the men’s rooms following the experience “as soon as we get a speaker,” he said.

Gomez tweeted that the rest of his family went home on Thursday. “Hodge & I are just gonna figure this out like the rest of the working parents in America,” he wrote.

Robert Menendez Jr.

Robert Menendez Jr. (D-NJ) holds his son Robert as his daughter Olivia sits nearby.

Members of Congress bringing children and grandchildren to work is not unusual. Many members on both sides of the aisle invite family members for their swearing-in ceremonies. And in 2018, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth’s newborn daughter made history when she accompanied her mother on the Senate floor for a vote, after a Senate rule change allowed her to be there.
Gomez told NBC News “it wasn’t a big deal” that he carried his son onto the House floor, but he hopes it helps normalize dads being caregivers in public. “I think it does send a powerful message that us guys need to do our part. We don’t risk our lives bringing children into the world — women do,” he said.

The exact number of working parents in Congress is hard to come by. But as of 2020, roughly 30% of representatives had children under 18, according to CNBC. Just 6% of people in the 117th Congress were moms with school-age kids — and only 14 dads used campaign funds for child care during the 2020 election cycle, according to the Vote Mama Foundation, which analyzes the political participation of mothers.
More dads are opting out of the workforce to be the primary caregiver for their kids, though it’s still more common for moms to step back from work to care for kids. Since the pandemic an increasing number of parents, like the Congressmen, have become all too familiar with juggling work and child care.

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