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Buttigieg 'won't apologize' for taking paternity leave, calls it 'joyous' and 'important' work

Pete Buttigieg Chasten children
Posted at 8:15 AM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 12:18:41-04

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday responded to criticism from conservative pundits about his decision to take paternity leave after he and his husband welcomed twins.

"It is long past time to make it possible for every American mother and father to take care of their children when a new child arrives in the family," Buttigieg said Sunday during an appearance on CNN.

Buttigieg has been on paternity leave since mid-August when he and his husband Chasten announced that they had become parents to son Joseph August and daughter Penelope Rose.

However, last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized Buttigieg's decision to continue taking his paternity leave amid failing supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Carlson also made derogatory comments about Buttigieg being an openly gay father, adding that the former presidential candidate 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 remarked to CNN. "I'm not going to apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of my premature newborn, infant twins."

Buttigieg also noted that his work as a father is "joyful, fulfilling" and "wonderful" and added that he believed it was work that "every American ought to be able to do when they welcome a new child into their family."

Buttigieg also pointed to a Biden administration-backed social services bill that Congress is currently considering that would provide paid family leave for workers welcoming a new child. The bill would also expand access to both childcare and pre-school services.

"I campaigned on that. So did the president. The 'Build Back Better' agenda includes provisions for paid family leave," Buttigieg said.

Though Buttigieg remains on paternity leave, he was at the White House last week when President Joe Biden and other top administration officials unveiled a plan that they hope relieves pressure on supply chains. That plan involves a public and private push to increase shipping capacity during off-peak hours.