Heard on the Hill

Congressional Dads: Where Are the Baby Changing Tables?

Changing diapers in the men’s room can be messy, new Capitol parents say

Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., with twins Sky and Sage and wife, Monica, at the Congressional Baseball Game. (Courtesy of Ruiz)

When parents bring their young children to the Capitol complex, it can be a struggle just to get them through the door.

And diaper time can turn into a treasure hunt, as some of Congress’ newest dads have found.

“There’s nothing more frustrating when you have a dirty diaper to change and the men’s room has no changing tables. I’ve had to get on hands and knees a few times,” Rep. Eric Swalwell said.

The California Democrat has a 1-year-old son, Nelson.

North Carolina Republican Patrick T. McHenry brought his 6-month-old daughter, Rese, with him to the Capitol on Thursday and said he had to improvise to do a diaper change.

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California Democrat Raul Ruiz is seeing double when it comes to dirty diapers.

“I agree with Eric in terms of finding a changing spot [for] diaper changes,” said the father of 3-year-old twin girls, Sky and Sage.

“My kids are now in the potty training stages. When they said, ‘Daddy, I have to pee,’ it starts the race, the countdown, where you pick them up and rush to the restroom as fast as you can,” he said.

Twins add another challenge to Ruiz’s day when he brings them to work.

“If you have children that are both within toddler age, then you use twin strollers, regardless of if they’re twins or not,” he said. “If you have them double wide, it’s hard to get in certain doors, certain security guard rails ...[and] restrooms.”

Henry Arrington is also 3 years old. His dad, Texas GOP Rep. Jodey C. Arrington, who has two other young children, knows his job may not seem like the most thrilling, at least to the elementary school set.

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“Bring Your Kid to Work Day for a kid whose dad is a firefighter is probably really exciting — they get to ride in a fire truck and put on a cool uniform. Here in Congress, our kids are stuck in a committee hearing for two hours, which isn’t the best way to keep their attention,” Arrington said.

McHenry said the most challenging part of raising kids as a congressman is managing the schedule with two working parents. On Thursday, after Rese was in the Capitol, the McHenrys’ plan for a babysitter fell through and they had to improvise.

Ruiz has to get all the way to California to be with his daughters at the end of the week.

“As soon as I finish my last votes on a Thursday or Friday, it is a race to that airport. We all have that common goal and that common goal is to get me home before bedtime so my children can see me and touch me … so it won’t be another day,” he said. “Sometimes I’m trying to change my clothes on my way to the airport.”

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