On Monday, California Assemblymember Buffy Wicks rushed to the state capitol of Sacramento to vote on a bill — and ended up at the center of a viral moment, thanks to her newborn daughter.
ABC7 News reports that Wicks, who represents the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, requested to cast her vote on the housing bill by proxy amid the coronavirus pandemic, but her request was denied. According to Politico, she was told that recently giving birth did not qualify her as high-risk for the coronavirus. So Wicks drove to Sacramento, brought her baby onto the floor, and held her swaddled 1-month-old as she cast her vote.
Asm. @BuffyWicks rushing to the Capitol to support #SB1120, statewide duplexes, with her month-old daughter strapped to her chest, only to have the bill die on a midnight technicality, is the perfect example of how broken California governance is.
Watch her speech regardless. pic.twitter.com/kowCNhN943
— Jordan Grimes (@cafedujord) September 1, 2020
"Please, please, please pass this bill," she said. "And I'm going to go finish feeding my daughter."
Wicks also shared a photo of herself (in a mask) with her daughter, Elly, on Twitter.
"I was actually in the middle of feeding my daughter when this bill came up, and I ran down on the floor today because I strongly need to pass this bill," she told ABC7.
— Buffy Wicks (@BuffyWicks) August 31, 2020
Video of the moment went viral on Twitter, with Hillary Clinton sharing Wicks's story.
California Assemblymember @buffywicks was told that having recently given birth wasn’t sufficient excuse to cast a vote remotely.
So she brought her newborn daughter to the floor to weigh in on an important housing bill. 💪https://t.co/elofHmIcxl pic.twitter.com/ZQf9F10qKE
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 1, 2020
"Please, please, please please pass this bill, and I'm gonna go finish feeding my daughter," says Asm. @BuffyWicks as her newborn daughter fusses in her arms and Assembly debate approaches midnight. As @LaurelRosenhall notes, Wicks was denied ability to vote by proxy. pic.twitter.com/ro67zimQ8r
— Christine Mai-Duc (@cmaiduc) September 1, 2020
As Politico pointed out, Assembly rules adopted Aug. 3 in response to the pandemic dictated that proxy voting must be approved by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
In a statement to Politico via a spokesperson, Rendon stood by the decision to deny Wicks's request.
"The speaker understands that members are committed to performing their legislative duties, while still trying to minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure," the statement read. "The house resolution pertaining to proxy voting is very specific, in that only members at a higher risk from Covid-19 will be considered eligible for proxy voting. This bar of eligibility was always intended to be high, to ensure the protection of our legislative process."