Dads in Congress form a caucus to push for family-friendly policies
When Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) first brought his chipmunk-cheeked 4-month-old son, Hodge, to the House floor this month, the congressman was just hoping to show off his new baby: “This is my son, my first kid, and I’m very proud,” he says.
Images of the pair started to circulate across Twitter and in newspapers — photos of a dad wearing his child while working, a dad juggling his professional and family responsibilities, a dad doing what working mothers have done for decades — “and then,” Gomez says, “I realized people were watching, and this is not just about Hodge.”
It felt like an opportunity. For years, there have been murmurs about forming an official caucus of fathers in the House, Gomez says. “The concept has been out there, but nobody has taken it up and executed the idea.” But suddenly, all eyes were on Gomez and baby Hodge, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and his 8-month-old daughter, Anna Valentina, and the other fathers tending to young kids during the days-long drama to elect a House speaker. Gomez felt the time had finally come.
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.
The caucus, its members say, will advocate for policies and legislation to help support American working families — including the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, as well as increased access to affordable child care, health care and paid family leave.
Gomez expects the caucus will hold meetings monthly at first, “and then we’ll develop hearings, and working groups, as well as host educational seminars for staff and for members,” he says. The group will also serve as a more organized and reliable support network for congressmen with children, he said.
The launch of the Congressional Dads Caucus follows the creation of the Moms in the House Caucus in 2019, a group that has advocated for family-friendly and maternal health-focused policies and also serves as a forum for mothers in the House to share insight, advice and solidarity with one another.