Members of the House of Representatives Can Finally Buy Tampons

The House of Representatives will start stocking menstrual products for the first time ever, and legislators will be able to buy them with their Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA). There are a record 102 women in the 116th Congress, and the rules are finally, slowly, changing to accommodate them.

Representative Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Administration Committee, announced in a letter that, effective immediately, menstrual products will be available in the House office supply store. Representatives can use their MRA to buy them for themselves or to stock in their office for staff members or constituents to use. She also stated that she had already taken steps to make menstrual products available in the women’s bathroom.

The letter was written in response to an inquiry by Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz and New York Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney and Grace Meng in which they asked for clarification on the rules for using their MRA to pay for tampons. It was the first such inquiry Lofgren had received.

“I strongly support and admire my colleagues’ goal and am directing the finance office to approve use of MRA funds for the purchase of menstrual products,” wrote Lofgren.

Previously, representatives were not allowed to use their MRA to purchase tampons, according to the strict and somewhat confusing rules regarding the use of MRA funds.

The issue first became publicized when Rep. Maloney requested permission to use this fund to buy tampons for his office and was denied. He was later granted permission, but the official policyremained unclear.

“Like I said repeatedly last year, saying tampons are superfluous but other hygiene products like hand sanitizer and tissues are totally necessary reinforces the idea that our rules are written by men, for men, and that women are merely second-class citizens on Capitol Hill,” Maloney said in a statement.

Following the announcement, Maloney added on Tuesday: “Thanks to Chairperson Lofgren’s leadership, policies on Capitol Hill are finally catching on to the fact that women work here. After last year’s chaos, it’s helpful to have this clarity. I thank Zoe Lofgren for being a champion for workplace equality.”

Congress has been about as slow to catching on to the fact that women work there as we have been slow to elect them. When Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House in 2007, she created the House’s first lactation room.

In 2011, the House finally got a women’s restroom near the Speaker’s floor. A women’s restroom had been considered previously but deemed too expensive to install. A committee was finally created to determine what the women of Congress needed from a restroom, in addition to the basics. The committee decided a baby changing table would be important.

“We thought, with a group of younger women entering Congress, there might be a need someday,” said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who put together the committee, with excellent foresight considering the group of young women who have since entered Congress.

The Senate has had a women’s restroom since 1993 but doubled the size of it in 2013 to accommodate the record number of women elected the previous year.

Last year, as Senator Tammy Duckworth became the first senator to give birth while in office, Congress lifted the ban on children on the Senate floor and recently the rules have changed to allow women to wear headscarves on the House floor.

As the makeup of Congress starts to more closely represent the makeup of our society, hopefully the rules of Congress will start to more closely represent the makeup of the people who work there.

Related at Care2

Photo Credit: Getty Images

57 comments

Greta L
Greta L16 days ago

Thank you

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill18 days ago

thanks

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Sophie A
Sophie A21 days ago

thank you for posting

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Leo Custer
Leo Custer22 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo C
Leo Custer23 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Jan S
Jan S23 days ago

thank you for posting

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Kathleen England
Kathleen England26 days ago

Free?

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heather g
heather g26 days ago

I guess if they stock painkillers, tampons, etc should be available. I didn't realize that the govt. staff was paid so poorly they had to get assistance on this.

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Leo C
Leo Custer27 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Elaine W
Elaine W27 days ago

Noted.

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