Politics

Tammy Duckworth and Baby Cast Their First Senate Vote Together, Opposing NASA Nominee

But Bridenstine confirmed to lead space agency, leaving House seat vacant for months

Sen. Tammy Duckworth arrived with her newborn baby Maile to cast a vote on the Senate floor on Thursday afternoon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Maile Pearl Bowlsbey made Senate history Thursday, becoming the first newborn allowed on the Senate floor.

Maile, the daughter of Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, born just last week, came to the floor the day after the chamber changed its antiquated rules to allow senators to bring in children under the age of 1.

Duckworth arrived at the Capitol just after Vice President Mike Pence and his motorcade departed. Pence’s tie-breaking function would not be necessary with Duckworth making an appearance to vote, as it meant 99 senators were present. The senator and baby daughter arrived on a blustery afternoon, where they were greeted by an abundance of TV cameras on the East Front, just outside the building.

Senators applauded as Duckworth came into the chamber for what ultimately was not a decisive “no” vote. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona came around to support confirmation of President Donald Trump’s choice of Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be NASA administrator, 50-49.

As Duckworth left the floor with her infant child after voting on the Bridenstine nomination, several senators looked up to the press gallery. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer pointed up and said, “The press is finally interested in something worthwhile.”

Watch: Duckworth Brings Her Newborn Daughter to the Senate Floor for Vote

Duckworth indicated earlier Thursday she was prepared to come to the Capitol to vote, having tweeted out a photo of her new baby’s outfit for the potential floor appearance.

Bridenstine, a Republican from Oklahoma, thus became the answer to one of the great Senate trivia questions of all time — the subject of the first roll call vote with a baby present on the floor.

There will not be a special election to fill Bridenstine’s seat because of the timing of the vacancy, according to Oklahoma election law.

The law states that if a vacancy occurs in an even-numbered year and the term expires the following year, there will not be a special election. Instead, the candidate who wins the general election will be appointed to serve out the last few months of Bridenstine’s term.

Under the Constitution, governors must call special elections to fill House vacancies.

Asked about the constitutionality of an appointment to a House seat, Oklahoma State Elections Board spokesman Bryan Deal wrote in an email that he was not aware of any legal challenges to the law.

Bridenstine, who was first elected in 2012, had said he would serve only three terms, so a number of Democrats and Republicans are running for the 1st District. Five Democrats and five Republicans filed last week to run for the seat. The primary is June 26.

The seat is expected to remain in GOP hands. Trump carried the district by 28 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solidly Republican.

Businessman Kevin Hern had the largest campaign war chest at the end of the first fundraising quarter, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

Hern had $407,000 on hand and loaned his campaign $500,000. Former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris had $130,000 in the bank, and nonprofit executive and former military intelligence officer Andy Coleman had $107,000 on hand.

Watch: There Won’t Be Clothing Requirements for Baby: Senate Changes Floor Rules, Allowing Infants

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