Democrats defend Pete Buttigieg for taking parental leave to care for his two newborns

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GOP lawmakers and others attacked the transportation secretary for taking time off to care for his children after their adoption.

Democratic lawmakers are coming to the defense of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is under attack by Fox News' Tucker Carlson and GOP lawmakers for taking paid parental leave to care for the two newborn infants he adopted with his husband.

Carlson mocked Buttigieg, saying at one point on his program Thursday night, "Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed, no word on how that went."

Since then, GOP lawmakers have taken cues from Carlson to attack Buttigieg, with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) mocking Buttigieg for taking "maternity leave," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) calling Buttigieg "absent," and Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) criticizing Buttigieg for taking "2 months off."

In September, Buttigieg announced that he and his husband, Chasten, had adopted two newborns. "Chasten and I are beyond thankful for all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we're becoming parents," Buttigieg tweeted, along with a photo of the couple cradling the babies. "We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family."

The GOP attacks on Buttigieg come as Democrats are working to pass 12 weeks of federal paid leave for parents in the United States, which lags far behind other nations in providing time off for parents to care for newborns.

Democrats were quick to come to Buttigieg's defense in the wake of the onslaught.

"While Republicans are shaming @SecretaryPete for taking time off to care for his new children, Democrats are fighting to make sure that every single worker has paid leave," Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) tweeted.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) echoed those sentiments.

"I'm glad @SecretaryPete has been able to take some time to spend with his new children," Casey tweeted. "As we fight to expand paid leave, we must ensure every family has access to leave and also de-stigmatize parents using it."

Others were aghast that Republicans would consider taking leave to care for children to be skipping out on work.

"Going on paternity leave isn't being 'MIA.' It's called being a parent," Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) tweeted. "And @SecretaryPete is a new parent no different than the millions of other Americans who also deserve the right to care for their loved ones during birth, sickness and old age."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki agreed with Clark's comments.

"Proud to work in an Administration that is fighting to make paid leave a reality for everyone, and with people like @SecretaryPete who are role models on the importance of paid leave for new parents," Psaki tweeted.

It wasn't just right-wing media and Republicans attacking Buttigieg.

Politico's "West Wing Playbook" labeled Buttigieg "MIA" during a logjam at some U.S. ports.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who was the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office back in 2018, tweeted at Politico, "When the press accuses a new father of being 'MIA' for going on parental leave to bond with a child, it sends exactly the wrong message to working families."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.