Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who recently returned from several weeks of paternity leave, defended Democrats dropping paid family leave from their spending package, saying on Sunday that “nobody gets everything that they want” in a large bill like this.
CNN’s Dana Bash pressed Buttigieg on the issue on Sunday’s “State of the Union,” showing the former Democratic presidential candidate a clip of himself on the same show just two weeks prior calling for paid family leave.
“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 in the clip from earlier this month.
“What do you say to the more than 100 million Americans who don’t have access to the kind of paid family leave you just benefited from and don’t understand why the administration didn’t fight harder to keep it in the bill?” Bash asked Buttigieg on Sunday.
Buttigieg defended the bill, saying that some family assistance is included, and calling it “the most important pro-family legislation of my lifetime.”
“When you have a successful policy, when you deliver major positive transformational change in the lives of Americans, you are rewarded with more running room to do more great things,” Buttigieg said. “I firmly believe that idea that good policy is good politics, and this framework is good policy.”
He added that “obviously, when you put together something this big and this complex, nobody gets everything that they want.”
“The president has been clear about that; I don’t think anybody crafting their perfect package in their mind would see it reflected here, because this reflects the input of so many different people, including bipartisan work on the infrastructure side, and a very ideologically diverse big tent party on the family stuff,” he added.
Buttigieg took several weeks of paid paternity leave when he and his husband Chasten welcomed newborn adopted twins in August. The transportation secretary was criticized for taking so much time to focus on the couple’s premature twins while Congress was considering the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion social spending package, the Build Back Better Act, and while the country is weathering a supply chain crisis.
Buttigieg has defended his decision to take paid family leave, saying that he is “not going to apologize” for taking care of his twins and that “it’s helped us have a conversation about parental leave.”
“Every American ought to be able to get paid parental leave. That’s something that the president believes in and has proposed. It’s something I believe,” Buttigieg said on “The View” earlier this month.
“If there’s this idea that maybe men have access to paternity leave, but it’s frowned on if they actually use it, then obviously that doesn’t work for a marriage like mine, but also for a man who’s married to a woman,” Buttigieg said. “That carries with it the assumption that the woman’s going to do all the work. That just makes no sense in the 21st century.”
On the U.S. supply chain crisis, Buttiegieg warned that the problems will likely continue for months and through the holiday season.
“Certainly a lot of the challenges that we’ve been experiencing this year will continue into next year,” Buttigieg said earlier this month on CNN.