Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg on paternity leave as supply chain crisis worsens

As ongoing supply chain bottlenecks contribute to rising empty shelves and rising anxiety leading into the holiday shopping season, the Cabinet-level official presumably responsible for addressing the situation – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg – has reportedly been out on paternity leave for roughly two months to care for newborn twins, as the New York Post reports.

As The Hill noted in early September, Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, recently welcomed a baby boy and a baby girl into their family following prior unsuccessful adoption attempts, with the couple tweeting their gratitude for “all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we’re becoming parents.”

Little did the country know, however, that despite his high-powered role in President Joe Biden’s White House, Buttigieg was intending to embark on an extended leave to experience the joys of nascent parenthood first hand.

Even as cargo ships were stacking up in ports along the west coast and product shortages began to reveal themselves nationwide, Buttigieg was fully immersed in the world of diapers and bottles, remaining, in the words of a spokesperson for the secretary, “mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” as the Post noted.

Given the escalating supply crisis that some experts suggest will continue well into next year, it is doubly astonishing that Buttigieg does not have any plans to cut his leave short, but will “continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children,” as his spokesperson added.

Once the full extent of Buttigieg’s recent – and apparently continued – absence went public, the criticism of his decision to effectively abandon his official duties in the midst of a true crisis was swift and sure, with Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw entering the fray.

“If only we had someone to oversee ports and address the backlog that’s causing supply chaiin shortages and empty shelves across the country. Like a ‘Transportation Secretary’ or something,” Crenshaw remarked sarcastically.

According to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), it is past time for Buttigieg to determine where his priorities lie and make decisions accordingly, saying on Twitter, “We’re in the middle of a transportation crisis, and Pete Buttigieg is sitting at home. Meanwhile, cargo boats are unable to dock and shelves are sitting empty. Pete needs to either get back to work or leave the Department of Transportation.”

Echoing the sentiments of countless Americans who are appalled by the transportation secretary’s choices, Paul Mirengoff of the Powerline blog wisely opined on Friday, “No one seriously believes that if Buttigieg were not on paternity leave, the supply chain situation would be materially better. But that’s not the point. It’s Buttigieg’s job to devote his undeflected attention to coping with this crisis. It’s his duty to put the nation’s interest ahead of his personal ones.”