May 11, 2023

Ahead of Mother’s Day, Newly-Reintroduced Bipartisan Duckworth-Daines-Hirono Bill Would Better Protect Parents Traveling with Breast Milk


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Ahead of Mother’s Day, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is reintroducing bipartisan legislation today to make it easier for parents to safely embark on air travel with breast milk and breastfeeding supplies, including ice packs. The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening (BABES) Enhancement Act, co-led by U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), 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. This effort comes in response to recent reports about women being misled by certain Transportation Security Officers about current TSA policy and being forced to either discard the supplies their children need or check them into a bag.

“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 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.”

“Being a mom is the toughest job on the planet. As we approach Mother’s Day, giving mothers clarity from TSA when they are traveling with breast milk and baby formula is just one more way we can show appreciation for their sacrifices,” said Daines. “That’s why I am proud to support this bipartisan bill that will support Montana moms.”

“Families have enough to worry about when traveling, they shouldn’t have to fear being harassed, humiliated, and even put in danger simply for traveling with milk and supplies they need to keep their babies fed,” said Hirono. “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.”

The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Enhancement Act would help keep breastfeeding parents and their kids safe and healthy while traveling by air. 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 clogged milk duct, or a painful infection called mastitis. The legislation would better protect families by requiring TSA to:

  • Issue guidance promoting the hygienic handling of any breast milk, baby formula or other infant nutrition products, as well as accessories required to preserve these products;
  • Consult with nationally recognized maternal health organizations in establishing and communicating this guidance and
  • Update its guidance every five years to respond to emerging needs of parents and to account for developments in technology.

This legislation 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.

The BABES 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.

Duckworth has been a strong advocate in ensuring new moms receive the dignity and respect they deserve while traveling. Last year, Duckworth pressed TSA Administrator David Pekoske for improved treatment of new mothers and Americans with disabilities from employees of the TSA. Duckworth and Hirono also called on TSA to address inconsistent implementation of the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption travel policy for breastmilk and formula at airport security checkpoints as well as ensure new moms and their infants can travel safely without fear of harassment.

Duckworth has also championed several policies that help make air travel easier for new moms and Americans with disabilities, including her Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation ensuring that small airports across the country support new moms and promote breastfeeding-friendly environments, was signed into law in 2020. The legislation builds on Duckworth’s success in enacting a law that ensures all large and medium airports provide a clean, private space where moms can breastfeed or pump. Recently, O’Hare and Midway Airports both installed free-standing lactation pods for new mothers as a result of Duckworth’s FAM Improvement Act.