[Writing from a living room in New Jersey in which a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old who are in COVID quarantine are playing a collision-oriented game they call “You Better Watch Out for the Bus” using a wooden “ride-on llama“]:
Well, it’s about time!
The first Congressional Dads Caucus was announced Thursday at a news conference on Capitol Hill, with members of the House introducing the group alongside representatives from nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups including Paid Leave for All, the National Alliance for Caregiving and MomsRising.
That’s right. According to California Rep. Jimmy Gomez, who had some viral moments while taking care of his 4-month-old son during the extended day-and-night speaker of the House voting earlier this month, approximately 15 Democratic representatives (fathers and fatherhood allies) have organized themselves into a new interest group.
Other prominent members of the caucus include New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim, pictured above delivering what we can presume to be an interesting aside about local history, and Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, who also took part in viral day care with his 8-month-old daughter during the speaker ordeal.
Gomez also lists Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib—also pictured above—as a co-founder of the group. That’s not because dads need a woman to help them with things, although there are, in fact, too many settings on the washing machine, but because Tlaib and other congressional Moms already formed a similar caucus in 2019. Members of both groups advocate for “family-friendly” progressive policies like paid family leave, an expanded child tax credit, and funding for universal pre-K and subsidized child care.
All three of those concerns, not coincidentally, were initially a major focus of the giant Joe Biden–agenda omnibill that became the Inflation Reduction Act. They were dropped, however, more or less because West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin thought they were too expensive; Manchin, though he is an actual dad, is not a Dad in the sense of making child care part of his identity as a public figure or prioritizing it as a matter of public spending.
Which is to say, the new Congressional Dads Caucus faces some challenges in moving its organization from the realm of feel-good coverage into one of legislative accomplishment. Still, if there’s anyone you can count on to eventually get something done after failing spectacularly at it several times, it is a Dad. Now, if you please, my daughter has fallen asleep face-first on the carpet during her third repeat viewing of a low-budget CGI Spider-Man cartoon series, and if I don’t take care of it [puffing out chest], no one else is going to, because her mom is doing the laundry between work meetings on Zoom.