He’s just become a parent to two newborns and has been out on paid paternity leave….
With the new media focus moving supply problems and inflation for Americans?
The focus is about to come down on why he isn’t around….
That was until this week….
He’s back now….
PETE BUTTIGIEG has been MIA.
While U.S. ports faced anchor-to-anchor traffic and Congress nearly melted down over the president’s infrastructure bill in recent weeks, the usually omnipresent Transportation secretary was lying low.
One of the White House’s go-to communicators didn’t appear on TV. He was absent on Capitol Hill during the negotiations over the bill he had been previously helping sell to different members of Congress. Conservative critics tried (unsuccessfully) to get #WheresPete to trendand Fox News ran a story on October 4 with the headline: “Buttigieg quiet on growing port congestion as shipping concerns build ahead of holidays.”
They didn’t previously announce it, but Buttigieg’s office told West Wing Playbook that the secretary has actually been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies.
“For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. “He has been ramping up activities since then.” As he does that, Buttigieg will “continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children,” the spokesperson added.
That ramp has been steep this week, as Buttigieg reverts to his “go everywhere” media habits….
Advocates of paternity leave cheered Buttigieg for setting an example. “It absolutely reflects changing norms and changing needs,” said DAWN HUCKELBRIDGE, the director of the group Paid Leave for All. “I’m thrilled that the secretary did that and showed that work and family go together.”
In the past, Cabinet secretaries felt compelled to come back sooner. Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development JULIÁN CASTRO took about a “week or so” of leave after his child was born, his spokesperson told us.
In part, that’s because Cabinet secretaries are not eligible for the same paid family leave benefits that federal workers are. “Individuals in the executive branch who are appointed by the President to positions in the Executive Schedule are not covered by the leave system,” a spokesperson for the Office of Personnel Management said. “They do not earn leave and serve at the pleasure of the President. The President can choose to allow him to take time off.”…