Secretary of transportation nominee Pete Buttigieg listens during a confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Reuters Pool)
Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday pushed back against criticism of his decision to take a two-month long paternity leave amid a supply-chain crisis, saying he is “not going to apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else.”
Buttigieg’s comments came during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, days after Fox News’s Carlson lambasted the transportation secretary for taking paternity leave after adopting two children with his husband. Carlson suggested that Buttigieg was “trying to figure out how to breastfeed.”
“As you might imagine, we’re bottle-feeding and doing it at all hours of the day and night,” Buttigieg said Sunday in response to Carlson’s comments.
“And I’m not going to apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of my premature newborn, infant twins,” Buttigieg added. “The work that we are doing is joyful, fulfilling, wonderful work. It’s important work and it’s work that every American ought to be able to do when they welcome a new child into their family. I campaigned on that.”
Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg says America need both pieces of spending legislation Democrats are currently debating in Congress.
“America needs both of those…not only to make sure we have the right infrastructure but to make sure life gets better in this country.” pic.twitter.com/kvzi8D5zWU
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 17, 2021
The most recent remarks come after Buttigieg previously criticized Carlson during an appearance on MSNBC last week, saying, “what is really strange is that, you know, this is from a side of the aisle that used to claim the mantle of being pro-family. What we have right now is an administration that’s actually pro-family.”
However, Carlson is not the only person who has been critical of Buttigieg’s decision to step away from his role for two months while the U.S. has struggled with supply chain issues that have caused a shortage of goods and a spike in prices.
“Looking back as a cabinet secretary, why didn’t you or the Department of Transportation make an official announcement when you went on parental leave and why did you not appoint an acting secretary while you were away?” host Jake Tapper asked.
Buttigieg defended his absence, saying deputy secretary Polly Trottenberg was able to fill in for him when he was not available and that he remained in touch with his office on pressing issues.
“Even though I’ve been on paternity leave and I’m proud of it, obviously given the nature of my job when you take a job like mine you understand and accept that you’re going to have to be available 24/7, depending on what’s going on and you’re going to have to engage. And I did even if that meant taking a phone call or making a decision from a hospital room,” Buttigieg said.
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