WASHINGTON — Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has become the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.
In a message posted on Monday, Duckworth, 50, also paid tribute to former Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who died on April 6:
“Bryan, Abigail and I couldn’t be happier to welcome little Maile Pearl as the newest addition to our family and we’re deeply honored that our good friend Senator Akaka was able to bless her name for us — his help in naming both of our daughters means he will always be with us.
“Pearl Bowlsbey Johnson was Bryan’s great aunt, an Army officer and a nurse who served during the Second World War. He spent many summer months with her while growing up, we feel her presence still and are grateful for her service to our nation during the most challenging of times.
“We’re also so grateful for the love and support of our friends and family, as well as our wonderful medical teams for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family.”
Duckworth, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and helicopter pilot who lost both legs in the Iraq War, had her first child in 2014 while serving in the House of Representatives, becoming one of only 10 women who have given birth as sitting members of Congress. Her daughter Abigail’s middle name is O’kalani.
Her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, is also an Iraq War veteran.
Duckworth is taking time off to bond with her new daughter, but will remain in Washington, D.C. in case her vote is needed.
In her statement announcing the birth, she said, “Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and one that affects all parents — men and women alike. As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a denator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hard-working families everywhere.”
Duckworth, the first Asian American woman elected to Congress from Illinois and the first member of Congress born in Thailand, previously served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.