Psaki shuts down Newsmax reporter’s attack on Pete Buttigieg’s paternity leave

‘They should have this time to bond with their children. I’m not going to apologise for that from here,’ Psaki says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 19 October 2021 21:12
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shut down a question from a Newsmax reporter about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s paternity leave

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shut down a question from a Newsmax reporter about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s paternity leave.

Emerald Robinson of Newsmax asked Ms Psaki that “given the severity of the supply chain crisis, the multiple issues that you outlined, wouldn’t it be wise for the secretary to get back on the bicycle so to speak – come back to work?”

“He’s at work,” Ms Psaki responded.

“He’s on paternity leave,” Ms Robinson said.

“I was on a conference call with him this morning,” Ms Psaki explained.

“He’s in the department now, every day?” Ms Robinson asked.

“I think what you’re getting at here is this question of whether men, parents, women should have paternity and maternity leave,” Ms Psaki added. “The answer is absolutely yes. In our view, that is the policy of this administration, that is what we’re pressing to make law so it’s a reality for women, parents, fathers across the country.”

“Just to be clear, we are quite confident with the capabilities, the talents of the civil servants, the leadership at the Department of Transportation,” Ms Psaki said when Ms Robinson pushed ahead with the issue. “I took 12 weeks of maternity leave when I was the White House communications director and I’m grateful to former President Obama for that and for leadership at the time for that.”

“This is something men, women should have,” she added. “They should have this time to bond with their children. I’m not going to apologise for that from here. And certainly, we are able to get the job done for the American people in the interim.”

Mr Buttigieg tweeted on 4 September: “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.”

The secretary’s paternity leave caused outrage among some on the right, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

After adopting twins in the middle of August, Mr Buttigieg was “mostly offline” for four weeks to take care of the children, with exceptions being made for “major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” according to a department spokesperson, Insider reported.

“Like other hardworking parents, the secretary is balancing his work and family life. As he’s ramping up activities, he’ll continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday that he’s “not going to apologise to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of my premature newborn infant twins”.

“The work that we are doing is joyful, fulfilling, wonderful work. It’s important work,” he said.

The US is dealing with supply chain issues leading to shipping delays and higher prices for consumers. Last week, the Biden administration revealed plans to alleviate some of the back-ups by holding the port of Los Angeles open 24 hours a day.

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