Bringing your baby to work can be a challenge, whether you work from home, in an office or in Congress.
In 2020, most parents got a crash course on bringing their kid to work, when work was suddenly at the kitchen table. Overnight, the roles of work and parenting collided, notwithstanding that for some parents this is the norm due to high child care costs or other life circumstances. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., is making sure that families don't get lost in the shuffle in the U.S. House.
The congressman's family came into Washington, D.C., from California to watch him get sworn in on January 3. But when things took a bit longer due to the prolonged speaker vote, Gomez felt it was important for his son to be on the floor with him when he cast his historic vote for Hakeem Jeffries. Jeffries will be the first Black minority leader in the House.
Bringing your baby to work can be a challenge, whether you work from home, in an office or in Congress. Babies may be little bundles of joy but if you miss their feeding time they become hungry bundles of anger. And Gomez's 4-month-old son, Hodge, was on a strict feeding schedule so he knew things could get a bit more complicated. It didn't discourage his decision.
Gomez told Today, "His feedings are at 7 in the morning, then four hours later at 11, then again at 3, then at 7 o'clock at night. He's an alarm clock. At three hours he starts getting fussy and cranky, and that's when you have to keep him occupied because once he gets to three and a half hours, that's when he gets really upset." But the working dad did what he had to do to make it work and when it was his turn to cast his vote, he had a message for the House.
\u201cOn behalf of my son Hodge and all the working families who need an expanded #ChildTaxCredit.\n\nI cast my vote for Hakeem Jeffries.\u201d— Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@Rep. Jimmy Gomez) 1672788766
When his name was called, Gomez stood with Hodge strapped to his chest in a baby carrier. The representative cast his vote for Jeffries saying, "On behalf of my son Hodge and all the working families who need an expanded Child Tax Credit, I cast my vote for Hakeem Jeffries." Fellow Democrats applauded and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., gave baby Hodge a belly rub, after all, the moment was a big one for a 4-month-old.
The Child Tax Credit is a tax benefit for families that have children under the age of 18 that can reduce the amount of federal taxes they owe and often result in a tax refund at the end of the year for lower income and middle class families. At the height of the pandemic when families were spending more time at home, putting an additional financial burden on already struggling families, the federal government began giving advanced Child Tax Credits.
These advanced tax credits came in the form of a monthly monetary deposit, which improved the livelihood of families across the country. The American Rescue Plan extended the Child Tax Credit to families that normally wouldn't qualify due to their income level by raising the credit from $2,000 to $3,000 for children 6 to 17 and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under the age of 6.
\u201cBack at it again. #Day2 #118thCongress\u201d— Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@Rep. Jimmy Gomez) 1672853426
That's all fantastic news, right? It would be but the expanded Child Tax Credit ended in December 2021, which is why Gomez called special attention to it when he cast his vote. Ending the expanded credit catapulted 3.7 million children back into poverty, according to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
Once the House elects a speaker, members can revisit the expired expanded tax credit, and Gomez did his part to ensure that his colleagues don't forget. Here's hoping the next time baby Hodge has to come to work with dad, it's a lighter work day. Sitting in the House chambers voting on things seems like a pretty tough job for a baby.