Press Releases

Following Mother’s Day, Rep. Porter Reintroduces Bipartisan Bills Protecting Moms and Newborns

Legislation would make it easier for parents to travel with breast milk and avoid unexpected health care costs

Today, Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) reintroduced the bipartisan Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening (BABES) Enhancement Act and the bipartisan No Surprise Bills for New Moms Act to make it easier for parents to welcome their newborns.

The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Enhancement Act

The BABES Enhancement Act would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to work with maternal health organizations to issue and update guidance promoting safe handling of breast milk, infant formula, and accessories that preserve these products. An independent watchdog would provide oversight to hold TSA officers accountable to the standards. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) joined Rep. Porter as co-leads of the BABES Enhancement Act, and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced a companion bill in the Senate. 

“The federal government doesn’t need to add to the stress of moms when they’re traveling,” said Rep. Porter, a single mom of three. “Moms should be able to fly without worrying about how to keep their baby healthy and fed. I’m proud to work with Democrats and Republicans to hold TSA accountable for following appropriate and safe screening procedures.”

“With three kids of our own, my wife and I know the stress of traveling with young children,” said Rep. Swalwell. “This bill will give parents traveling with breast milk, baby formula, and nursing products the assurance that those products will arrive in a safe and sanitary manner.” 

“We need to make traveling as easy as possible for mothers,” said Rep. Salazar. “This bill ensures that food and breast milk necessary for the healthy growth of infants is not mishandled while families are flying, and provides TSA the authorities to update these policies as necessary.”

“Too often, I hear stories of traveling moms being mistreated and denied access to their breast milk and the breastfeeding equipment that they need to pump and feed their babies,” said Sen. Duckworth. “Many of these incidents are inconsistent with TSA’s screening policies, which is why I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure TSA keeps its employees up to speed on their own policies and updates those policies as necessary. It’s the least we can do to help make sure parents traveling through our airports are given the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Rep. Porter first introduced the BABES Enhancement Act after hearing from Emily Calandrelli, one of Porter’s constituents, following an incident where TSA improperly forced her to check the supplies she needed to safely pump milk. 

The BABES Enhancement Act is endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, March of Dimes, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. 

The No Surprise Bills for New Moms Act

Rep. Porter’s proposal, co-led by Reps. Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), would make it easier to enroll a newborn in health coverage, protecting parents from unexpected charges after having a baby. The No Surprise Bills for New Moms Act would automatically cover newborns for the first 30 days and create a standardized 60-day enrollment period for infant health insurance.  

“It’s hard enough taking care of a newborn; parents shouldn’t be unexpectedly charged for their baby’s health care because insurance companies are asleep at the wheel,” said Rep. Porter. “Enrolling newborns in health insurance coverage should be an automatic, simple process. I’m proud to work with a bipartisan group of colleagues to reduce the cost—and stress—of growing a family.”

“New parents have enough on their plates without having to worry about getting a surprise medical bill or the cost of an unexpected medical visit in the first weeks of their baby’s life,” said Rep. Hinson. “This bipartisan legislation expands health care access for newborn babies and simplifies the enrollment process so that new parents can focus on keeping their babies healthy and happy.”

“New parents face countless responsibilities as they enter parenthood—but navigating complex health insurance policies shouldn’t be one of them,” said Rep. Nadler. “I’m proud to join Representative Porter in introducing the No Surprise Bills for New Moms Act to ensure newborns are covered under their parent's health insurance for the first month of life. Together, we can prevent new parents from being hit with economically devastating hospital bills.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues once more in supporting the No Surprise Bills for New Moms Act,” said Rep. González-Colón. “This legislation helps ensure families have time to navigate health coverage for newborns with their insurance. Specifically, insurers would provide coverage for newborns for the first 30-day period following birth, bring uniformity to the 60 day special enrollment period, and inform enrollees about claims for newborns who are not enrolled in a health insurance plan. This would help families by allowing them to focus on the joy of expanding their families without worrying about potential problems stemming from insurance.”

“Families deserve the peace of mind that they will not be at risk for surprise medical bills when they welcome a newborn child. Far too often, this time of joy and celebration ends abruptly due to unexpected and high medical bills.” said Rep. Barragán. “Latina moms are often juggling multiple family responsibilities like caring for aging parents and young children while also working demanding jobs that leave them with less time to prioritize their health and deal with complicated billing and enrollment issues. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan bill, which will require health insurers to cover newborns under their mother’s insurance plan for the first 30 days, and establishes a uniform 60-day enrollment period after that first month. Families in LA County shouldn’t be at risk for a surprise medical bill because of a complicated enrollment process or arbitrarily narrow timeline to get their new child covered.”

“Under our current healthcare coverage system, new parents are often hit with unexpected medical bills,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to join my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation that will give new parents much-needed flexibility in insurance enrollment as they welcome their newborns into their families.”

The No Surprise Bills for New Moms Act is endorsed by America’s Essential Hospitals, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Hospital Association, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, Families USA, March of Dimes, 1,000 Days, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Congresswoman Porter has been a staunch advocate for families throughout her time in Congress. She 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.