U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is facing criticism for taking multiple weeks of paid family leave while the trucking and transportation industry faces mounting supply chain woes.
According to reporting from Politico, Buttigieg has been on unannounced paid paternity leave since mid August after welcoming two newborns into his family with husband Chasten.
Chasten and I are beyond thankful for all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we’re becoming parents. We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family. pic.twitter.com/kS89gb11Ax
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) September 4, 2021
A DOT spokesperson told the outlet that “For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated. He has been ramping up activities since then.”
Buttigieg has faced criticism from the right and from Fox News personalities like Tucker Carlson for taking family leave at a time of crisis for the U.S. transportation industry.
Pete Buttigieg was completely unqualified to serve as Secretary of Transportation. But Biden still picked him.
Now, Pete is absent during a transportation crisis that is hurting working-class Americans.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 11, 2021
The questions to ask Transportation Secretary Buttigieg are quite simple: How many ports in California or Georgia or New Jersey have you visited? How many port operators and trucking executives have you met with in person? Who served as acting director during your extended leave?
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) October 16, 2021
Buttigieg has responded to the criticism by saying that parenting is work, not a vacation, and that he’s proud to be part of a “pro-family administration.”
I’m proud to be part of a pro-family administration. pic.twitter.com/mAUggb4txa
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) October 16, 2021
CNN reports that as of Monday, 200,000 shipping containers remain stranded on ships outside of the Port of Los Angeles even after the Biden Administration secured commitments from port officials and unions to move to 24/7 operations to clear the logjam.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began in the spring of 2020, supply chain disruptions have been an area of growing concern, with intermittent shortages of grocery items, paper supplies, and fuel reported in areas across the U.S. In response, the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order in February 2021 which directed several federal agency actions to secure and strengthen America’s supply chains. In June 2021, Biden also established a Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to assess and alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints.