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Book Excerpts: "The joy of politics" By Sen. Amy Klobuchar


St. Martin’s Press

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In his latest book, “The Joy of Politics: Surviving Cancer, a Campaign, an Epidemic, a Rebellion, and Life’s Other Unexpected Curveballs” (St. Martin’s Press), Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar describes the turmoil that has marked her political life and her personal life in Washington, DC, as she faces threats to both her family’s health and the health of democracy.

In this quote, the senator writes about one of her accomplishments as part of the Senate Rules Committee: getting new mom Tammy Duckworth (and all moms and dads after her) permission to bring their babies to the Senate floor.

Read the section below, and Don’t miss Sen. Klobuchar on “CBS Sunday Morning” May 14!

“The Joy of Politics” by Amy Klobuchar

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Getting approval for children on the Senate floor was the funnest. And it was not easy. Tammy Duckworth — the Democratic senator from Illinois who lost both legs in a helicopter crash while serving our country in Iraq — came to me before the birth of her second daughter to ask for permission to bring her soon-to-be-born baby to the event on the Senate floor, a late vote or put the baby on a feeding schedule. .

“No problem,” I said.

A few months later, Tammy was, well, even more pregnant (surprise!), and I encountered all kinds of passive resistance. Apparently senators once allowed a dog on the floor, but no kids.

I finally accepted the humor. When Senator Orrin Hatch told a group of reporters, “Maybe it’s okay to put this baby on the floor, but if we have ten babies on the floor,” I responded, “We already have ten babies on the floor.” (Which happened.)

Then, after sitting behind several senior male senators at a classified briefing and tapping them on the shoulder and asking them in a loud whisper if they had problems breastfeeding (red faces all around), I finally got a jingle for Dr. Seuss and me to talk about. Brought:

He’s not going to change diapers on the floor;
He will not nurse near the door.
He is not going to change the baby in the house;
He will be as quiet as a mouse.
He shall not employ children at work;
Stop being such a jerk.

Bingo that works. We pass rule changes. And one day during a close vote, the fifty-year-old veteran wheeled himself across the Senate floor with six-week-old Mile Pearl in his arms. Tammy made sure the baby was decked out in a little green suit so as not to violate the Senate dress code. Journalists cheered and cheered from the gallery above. Many were tearing up.

I sat down with Mitch McConnell. “This moment,” I said. “What do you mean?” he asked. “This is the moment when you and I and Chuck and Roy go down and greet the baby. Since I made this change as a message for the modern age and you agreed to it, we might as well own it.”

“In all my years of preaching,” he said, “I never kissed a child.”

“I don’t think that should happen,” I said. “You just have to greet the kid.”

And he did.

From “The Joy of Politics: Surviving Cancer, a Campaign, an Epidemic, an Insurgency, and Life’s Other Unexpected Curveballs” by Amy Klobuchar. Copyright © 2023 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

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