Rep Jimmy Gomez changed diapers and fed his son while the House chose a Speaker
Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., knew things could go awry during the House speaker vote on Tuesday. Having already served three terms, he says the “chaos” of Washington politics is nothing new.
It was new for Gomez’s family members, who had plans to watch Gomez be sworn in for a fourth term and then tour the nation’s capital.
“I have my wife, mom, siblings, their spouses, my baby, my niece and my two nephews (with me),” Gomez tells TODAY.com. “I think their heads are spinning.”
So when the Republican members of the House failed to elect a speaker — the first failure of its kind in a century — Gomez relied on the only foolproof plan he had: babywearing his 4-month-old son, Hodge, and sticking to a strict feeding schedule as the hours dragged on.
“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,” Gomez explains. “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.”
Armed with enough diapers, wipes, bottles and his trusty babywearing sling that allows Hodge to smile at Gomez’s colleagues — the congressman says at one point Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., insisted he “give me that baby” because he’s “the most gorgeous baby” — Gomez felt confident about keeping Hodge happy.
Just like the House Speaker vote, things did not entirely go to plan.
“The first feed at 11 a.m. started at 10:45 a.m. and took an extra 30 minutes. Then he had a diaper blowout,” Gomez says, laughing. “I had to go and change him. Luckily there’s a men’s bathroom right across the hall from my office.”
Gomez’s office is in the Cannon House Office building on Capitol Hill. All the restrooms in Cannon have baby-changing stations, including the men’s bathrooms — a recent update to the facility, Gomez says.
“He was probably the first baby to be changed on it,” he adds. “But that took another 30 minutes.”
Gomez had planned on being on the House floor at 11:30 in the morning. At 11:55 a.m., he was just finishing the diaper change.
“We were burning time,” he jokes. “But I was able to take him to the floor when they started doing the roll call.”
‘For me, it was a special day as a father and as an American’
Despite the uncompromising meal times and diaper blowouts, Gomez says it was vital that his 4-month-old be present as the congressman cast his vote for House minority leader for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D.-N.Y. — the first Black man to secure the position.
As his name was called, Gomez gave his vote while babywearing.
“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,” Gomez said, followed by applause from his Democratic colleagues.
Members of the House of Representatives have been allowed to bring family members, including small children, to the House floor for the speaker vote and swearing in, though they didn’t always receive a warm welcome. In 1924, a member of Congress complained about children taking up House seats.
In 2018, after Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., gave birth to a daughter, infants were finally allowed on the Senate floor.
Gomez does not believe he is the first member of the House to babywear on the floor, nor did he babywear his son “to make history,” he says.
“I was doing it because I wanted to have Hodge there and I wanted to show him off,” he adds. “He’s my son and I’m proud of him. Hopefully I won’t be the last member to babywear on the floor or to babywear and vote.”
Gomez’s parents and four siblings are from Mexico, and Gomez says that in one generation his family has seen a child of immigrants serve as a member of Congress.