Rep. Katie Porter Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Better Protect Parents Traveling with Breast Milk
Congresswoman introduces legislation after Orange County mom, Porter constituent was “humiliated” at Los Angeles International Airport
Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) today introduced bipartisan legislation to make it easier for parents to safely travel with breast milk. The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening (BABES) Enhancement Act, co-led by Congresswoman Maria Salazar (R-FL) and Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to clarify and regularly update guidance on handling breast milk, baby formula, and other related nutrition products in consultation with leading maternal health groups. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Steve Daines (R-MT) will be introducing an identical companion bill in the Senate.
“New parents have enough to worry about, especially while traveling,” said Porter, a single mom of three school-aged kids. “TSA screening checkpoints should not pose a risk to Americans who just want to keep their babies healthy and fed. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will make it easier for parents with young kids to travel safely.”
“As a mother of two beautiful daughters, I know how stressful it can be to travel with a newborn,” said Salazar. “It should not be difficult for traveling mothers to breastfeed or carry breast milk through TSA checkpoints. We can – and should – make motherhood easier through sensible measures like the BABES Enhancement Act.”
“With three kids of our own, my wife and I know the stress of traveling with young children,” said Swalwell. “This bill will provide certainty to parents flying with breast milk, baby formula and nursing products plus the added confidence that their child’s nutritional products will travel in a safe and sanitary manner.”
“Too often, I hear stories of new moms being mistreated and denied access to their breast milk and the breastfeeding equipment that they need to pump and feed their babies,” said Duckworth. “To make things worse, many of these incidents with TSA employees are flat-out inconsistent with the screening policies that TSA already has in place and it has to stop. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation alongside Congresswoman Porter to make sure that TSA does all it can to keep its employees up to speed on their own policies and update these policies accordingly. It’s the least we can do to better ensure all new parents are provided with the respect and dignity they deserve while traveling.”
“Too often TSA screening checkpoints put infants and their mothers at risk,” said Hirono. “We have heard far too many stories about mothers being harassed, humiliated, and even put in danger simply for traveling with milk and supplies they need to keep their babies fed. By requiring TSA to clarify and regularly update its guidance on handling breast milk and baby formula, the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Enhancement Act will help ensure parents and their young children can travel safely and with peace of mind.”
“We need to be doing everything we can to support mothers in every environment – that includes TSA screening checkpoints,” said Daines. “Nursing mothers deserve clarity and compassion when it comes to traveling with breast milk and baby formula and I’m glad to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan bill to support Montana moms.”
Emily Calandrelli, host of popular Netflix show Emily’s Wonder Lab and a constituent of Porter’s, was recently delayed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) while carrying supplies she needed to safely pump milk for her 10-week-old son. Calandrelli was ultimately forced to check her items despite existing TSA guidelines that permitted her to carry them on. Calandrelli shared her story onlineand was flooded with hundreds of messages from other mothers who had similar experiences while traveling.
“Working with Congresswoman Porter on this has turned a pretty awful experience into a positive one,” said Calandrelli. “Every single parent who echoed my experience will now feel seen and supported because of this bill.”
Porter’s legislation would help keep kids and their parents safe and healthy. Mishandled breast milk can become contaminated, which puts children at risk. Moreover, parents who lactate typically need to breastfeed or pump once every few hours. Failure to do so can result in a painful infection called mastitis.
The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Enhancement Act is endorsed by March of Dimes, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The legislation would better protect families by requiring TSA to:
Porter’s bill would also direct an independent government watchdog to conduct an audit of compliance with TSA screening policies for passengers traveling with breast milk and other infant nutrition products, providing lawmakers with information related to violations of policies like those experienced by Calandrelli.
Congresswoman Porter has been a staunch advocate for families throughout her time in Congress. She’s introduced a bipartisan bill to make it easier for parents to enroll newborns in health coverage, secured federal support for a maternal mental health hotline to help parents in crisis, and championed legislation to get pregnant workers the accommodations they need in the workplace. Porter is also a leading voice on the urgent need to lower the costs of child and elder care for families. Her Family Savings for Kids and Seniors Act would more than double the amount of money families can set aside pre-tax to pay for preschool, summer day camp, before or after school programs, and child or elder care.