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Policy & Actions

Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act

On Thursday, July 25, 2019, the Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2019 was signed into Public Law No. 116-30

The Act requires that certain public buildings that contain a public restroom also provide a lactation room, other than a bathroom, that is hygienic and available for use by a member of the public. This means that advocates and visitors to Capitol Hill, Senate and House office buildings, the Smithsonian buildings, courthouses, customshouses, and other federal facilities around the nation will have access to a clean, private lactation space. 

Under current practice, federal agencies provide a designated, non-bathroom space for returning employees to pump breast milk during the work day. The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act extends this requirement to include not just employees, but visitors to federal facilities. In Washington, D.C. alone, there are millions of tourists who visit federal facilities. There are also visitors to federal agencies for meetings and events that will benefit from the Act’s provisions. Families who exclusively pump, chest feed, use a supplemental nutrition system (SNS), or simply prefer a private space will have access to accommodations while utilizing federal facilities.

A covered public building may be excluded from the requirement if the building does not contain a lactation room for employees who work in the building and does not have a room that could be repurposed as a lactation space at a reasonable cost; or if new construction would be required and the cost is unfeasible.

USBC Insight and Collective Impact

The requirement for these federal buildings to provide lactation accommodations will go a long way toward supporting breastfeeding visitors, advocates, and local communities. The USBC circulated a letter of support for the Fairness for Breastfeeding Mother's Act, which was signed by 48 international, national, and tribal organizations and 38 regional, state, and local organizations. The impact of this letter was amplified by the more than 1,000 messages sent to Senators by their constituents through USBC's online action tool. The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act was also highlighted as a policy priority at the USBC's Welcome Congress and Advocacy Day of Action events. Thank you to all of our signing partners and all who took action to advocate for this bill! 

House Bill Number: H.R. 866

Senate Bill Number: S. 528

Congressional History

In February 2016, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced H.R. 4439the Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2016. The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure then the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. A Senate version was not introduced in the 114th Congressional Session.

In February 2017, Representative Holmes Norton reintroduced the bill as H.R.1174, the Fairness For Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2017. The bill was passed by the house the following month. A U.S. Government Publishing Office Report found that enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues. In June 2017, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced the Senate companion bill S.1497, the Fairness For Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2017, but it did not advance before the end of the 115th Congressional Session.  

Representative Holmes Norton reintroduced the bill as H.R.866, the Fairness For Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2019 in January 2019, during the 116th Congressional Session. The bill passed the House by voice vote in February. Senator Steve Daines reintroduced the bill in the Senate as S.528, the Fairness For Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2019 with bipartisan support. The bill was discharged from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and passed the Senate by voice vote in June 2019. The bill was presented to the President and signed in July 2019. 

Take Action

  • Submit a story about your experience with lactation accommodations in federal buildings

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