In a display of bipartisanship, the Senate voted 92-5 to add an amendment to the federal Omnibus bill that guarantees people breastfeeding the space and time to express milk at work. Five senators, however, each male and Republican, voted against the amendment on Thursday:
- Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky
- Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
- Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
- Sen. Mike Lee of Utah
- Sen. John Cornyn of Texas
The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act was sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley and Lisa Murkowski, a Democrat and a Republican. The bill expands upon a 2010 law that was passed by Merkley and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, which guarantees time and space for hourly workers to breastfeed.
In online statements on Thursday, Merkley and Murkowski celebrated the passage of the PUMP Act.
“I am encouraged to see the PUMP Act pass the Senate—good progress toward ensuring no mother ever has to choose between a job and nursing her child,” Murkowski said.
“We must make it possible for every new mom returning to the workplace to have the option to continue breastfeeding. That option is also really good for business,” Merkley added. “With this bill, parents will be empowered to make their own choices on breastfeeding, and businesses can improve the retention of valuable employees. It’s a win-win-win.”
On Tuesday, Merkley and Murkowski initially tried to get the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act voted on as a standalone bill, but Paul blocked the attempt. According to Jezebel, the senator blocked a vote on the bill for not including an amendment he wanted.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican of Wyoming, also blocked the bill in August, noting that it could upset the supply chain as the transportation industry may not be able to provide reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding workers.
Read the statement here.