Heard on the Hill

Senate Moms group balances parenting and politics

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, here in April 2018 with her newborn baby, Maile, is just one of many moms working in the Senate. A staffer group Senate Moms meets every second Tuesday of the month to discuss parenting issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On Tuesday afternoon in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, nearly 30 women from various Senate offices gathered over lunch, and you’d hardly know they worked in opposing offices. Republican and Democratic policies weren’t necessarily among the topics of conversation, but “co-sleeping,” on the other hand, was.

That was part of the conversation in the most recent “Senate Moms” group which convenes on the second Tuesday of every month (with the exception of August) and while it sounds like a club exclusive to mothers, it’s far from maternal-only; Dads and expecting parents are welcome, too.

“We would never turn anyone away,” says board member Gohar Sedighi, legislative director for Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith.

While in-person attendance varies depending on whether working Hill parents can break from their bosses for an hour to discuss parental leave and commiserate over sleep deprivation (among other topics), Sedighi says the email list comprises about two-hundred recipients.

Agendas are emailed in advance of meetings and resources like book recommendations, a babysitters list, and information on lactation suites in the Senate office buildings are at the ready.

While a lot of new parents discover new ideas and solutions during the lunch-time meetup, veteran parents impart wisdom based on personal experience.

Sedighi says the lunches foster bipartisan relationships well after staffers split for their respective offices.

“How you’re taking care of your kid is not a partisan thing,” she tells HoH. “We all do the same work even if our bosses’ views differ slightly.”

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