WA-List » The Congressional Nursery

The Congressional Nursery

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Politics & Government

Two very happy announcements arrived last week — both involving babies, congresswomen, and Washington State.  We have photos and a list.

The first happy news was an announcement from Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the U.S. Representative from Washington’s 5th Congressional District:

“Brian, Cole, Grace, and I are thrilled to welcome Brynn Catherine to our family!  (Born at 6:19 am on Nov. 24, weighing 7 lbs. 6 oz.) Nothing compares to the miracle of bringing a new  life into the world.  She’s beautiful and seems to be taking it all in stride.  Our hearts are full.”

Politicians have had children before, of course, but considering the overwhelming majority of office holders in American history have been male, it’s been a rarity for a member of Congress to give birth.  The first was Rep. Yvonne Burke of California.  Burke had a daughter on Nov 23, 1973 — 40 years and a day before McMorris Rodgers — while serving the first of her three congressional terms.  A generation passed before a second congresswoman became a mother in 1995.  Two more representatives gave birth the following year before another quiet decade in the congressional nursery slipped by.

McMorris Rodgers ended that quiet. You’ll notice the names Cole and Grace in the announcement above.  They were born to the representative and her husband Brian in 2007 and 2010 respectively.  So not only is the Spokane Republican the most recent congresswoman to have a baby, she was also the first to give birth twice — and now three times — while in office.  And she’s not exactly neglecting her day job.  McMorris Rodgers is in the House leadership, the chair of the House Republican Conference, and the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress.

The second happy news story involved Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican U.S. Representative from Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.  Herrera Beutler had a baby this year herself, but she (Abigail) was born 12 weeks premature with Potter’s Syndrome, a serious and usually fatal condition that stifles the development of the kidneys and lungs.  Since her birth on July 15, Abigail has been living in a California hospital getting remarkable care.  She was born without kidneys and will need a transplant eventually, but thanks to an experimental procedure suggested by doctors at Johns Hopkins, she has not only beaten the odds and survived, but has gotten stronger.  Last week the “miracle baby” was released to an outpatient care facility and is expected to go home to Camas for the first time by Christmas.

So congratulations and best wishes to both Washington congresswomen and their families!  And welcome to the world, Abigail and Brynn.  Your moms have delivered four of the only twelve babies ever born to members of Congress.


Birth Baby Name Congresswoman Life Party/ State Term
1. 1973 girl Autumn Roxanne Yvonne Braithwaite Burke 1932- D-CA 1973-79
2. 1995 girl Elizabeth Enid Greene Waldholtz 1958- R-UT 1995-97
3. 1996 girl Susan Ruby Susan Molinari 1958- R-NY 1990-97
4&5. 1996 boys Reece & Bennett Blanche Lincoln 1960- D-AR 1993-97*
6. 2007 boy Cole Cathy McMorris Rodgers 1969- R-WA 2005-
7. 2008 boy Henry Kirsten Gillibrand 1966- D-NY 2007-09*
8. 2008 boy Zachary Stephanie Herseth Sandlin 1970- D-SD 2004-11
9. 2009 boy Joaquin Linda Sánchez 1969- D-CA 2003-
10. 2010 girl Grace Blossom Cathy McMorris Rodgers   R-WA
11. 2013 girl Abigail Rose Jaime Herrera Beutler 1978- R-WA 2011-
12. 2013 girl Brynn Catherine Cathy McMorris Rodgers   R-WA

Six states.  Nine women.  Twelve babies.  Six boys, six girls.  Six baby Democrats (5 boys, 1 girl), six baby Republicans (1 boy, 5 girls).

*Lincoln later served in the Senate 1999-2011. Gillibrand later served in the Senate 2009-present.

PHOTOS: Both photos appearing in this article were posted on the congresswomen’s Facebook pages.  We intended to use official photos received from congressional offices when we conceived (no pun intended) and researched this list in June.  But mother-and-baby photos are so much better.  Duh!

SOURCES: The terms of office were taken from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.  Baby names and birth years were culled from official online biographies and dozens of news articles concerning the  various congresswomen.


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