At least one Republican in the U.S. Senate believes it’s time for President Joe Biden’s Transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, to either start doing his job or remove himself from the Cabinet role.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Breitbart, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee accused Buttigieg, a former small-town mayor known best for his failed 2020 presidential bid, of being missing-in-action amid what she called a “transportation crisis.”
“We’re in the middle of a transportation crisis, and Pete Buttigieg is sitting at home,” Blackburn told Breitbart. “Meanwhile, cargo boats are unable to dock and shelves are sitting empty.”
According to Breitbart, the senator’s comments came after a Thursday Politico report similarly claimed that “Pete Buttigieg has been MIA.”
“While U.S. ports faced anchor-to-anchor traffic and Congress nearly melted down over the president’s infrastructure bill in recent weeks, the usually omnipresent Transportation secretary was lying low,” said Politico’s Alex Thompson and Tina Sfondeles.
“He was absent on Capitol Hill during the negotiations over the bill he had been previously helping sell to different members of Congress,” they added.
The reason: Politico reports that the transportation “secretary has actually been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies.”
“For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” a spokesperson for the secretary told Politico. “He has been ramping up activities since then.”
“Put American families first”
But that’s not enough for Blackburn, who is calling on Buttigieg to get back into the office — or let someone else fill his spot.
“Pete needs to either get back to work or leave the Department of Transportation,” the senator told Breitbart this week. “It’s time to put American families first.”
According to the Associated Press, Buttigieg was first named Transportation secretary back in February after being appointed by Biden and confirmed by the Senate in a 86–13 vote. He’s said to be the first openly gay person to be formally confirmed to a top Cabinet role.
Politico reported Thursday that the White House would not confirm whether the president had approved of Buttigieg’s extended leave of absence, but one Biden official said in a statement:
Pete’s been a key member of the team since Day One, and has been critical as we shepherd the President’s agenda across the finish line. We’re overjoyed for him and Chasten, and believe every American should have access to paid family leave.