Democrats Defend Buttigieg’s Secret Paternity Leave

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Leading Democrats are defending Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg from accusations that he inappropriately went on paternity leave during a major supply chain and ports crisis.

Buttigieg and his husband Chasten adopted twins in early September. Buttigieg has been on paternity leave since mid-August, Politico reported Thursday, but the White House did not announce his time off.

Buttigieg has been gradually “ramping up activities,” a White House spokesperson said, although “he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated… for the first four weeks.”

In recent weeks, the Biden administration has grappled with major supply chain disruptions that have led to food shortages and price increases, as well as concerns that retailers may not be able to stock shelves for the holiday months. The White House announced on Wednesday that the Port of Los Angeles would operate 24/7 for the foreseeable future to unload cargo ships circling off of the coast. (RELATED: Biden Admin Admits They’re Partly Responsible For Supply Chain Chaos)

Amid the disarray, some conservatives have questioned Buttigieg’s decision to take more than two months off, noting that the nation’s ports and interstate trucking are within his purview.

In response, Democrats in Congress and the Biden administration have claimed that conservatives are upset by the idea of paid leave itself, and not Buttigieg’s unknown whereabouts during a major crisis.

When the press accuses a new father of being ‘MIA’ for going on parental leave to bond with a child, it sends exactly the wrong message to working families,” Democratic Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth tweeted in response to the Politico article, ignoring that Buttigieg’s leave was announced.

“Every parent deserves paternity leave, including [Buttigieg]. That should not be controversial,” Democratic Illinois Rep. Marie Newman wrote.

“Going on paternity leave isn’t being ‘MIA.’ It’s called being a parent,” Assistant Speaker of the House and Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark claimed.

“Proud to work in an Administration that is fighting to make paid leave a reality for everyone, and with people like [Buttigieg] who are role models on the importance of paid leave for new parents,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded.

Buttigieg has not yet addressed his paternity leave, but has had multiple media hits in the last week, including appearances on Morning Joe, New Day and NPR Politics.