Lawmakers Bond Over Shared Parenting Experiences

Apr 12, 2024

Several members of U.S. Congress are also parents of young people with disabilities.  Despite their political differences, these lawmakers are finding common ground, which is good news for voters who want to see bi-partisan efforts in Washington, DC, rather than a divided U.S. government.  A recent article in the New York Times quotes one Congress person as saying, “You almost feel like you’re family because there’s an understanding, a shared experience…It definitely builds a relationship. And there’s an immediate desire to work together.”  Music to my ears! Let the band play on, please.

One year into his first term in Congress, Senator Eric Schmitt, Republican of Missouri, has sought to find his lane while learning how multilayered relationships in Washington can be.

Mr. Schmitt, a towering figure at 6-foot-6, is a hard-right conservative and staunch defender of former President Donald J. Trump. He introduced 11 bills his first year in Congress, including bills to cut diversity and inclusion offices across federal agencies and to require agencies to roll back three pieces of regulation for each new one. As the Missouri attorney general, Mr. Schmitt signed on to a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and he filed suits against China over the coronavirus and against school districts for their Covid-19 mask mandates.

Even as he has connected with his Senate peers on the right, however, Mr. Schmitt has also forged a deeper kinship with an unlikely colleague: Senator Maggie Hassan, Democrat of New Hampshire.

They have little in common in terms of politics or legislative priorities. But both have children with disabilities: Ms. Hassan’s son, Ben, 35, has severe cerebral palsy. Mr. Schmitt’s son, Stephen, 19, is nonverbal and has tuberous sclerosis, epilepsy and autism.

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