Secretary Pete Buttigieg returns from the ‘joyful, wonderful, fulfilling work’ of parental leave

Secretary Pete Buttigieg returns from the ‘joyful, wonderful, fulfilling work’ of parental leave

With the size and shape of a paid family leave program in the Build Back Better bill still very much up in the air, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has emerged as a spokesman for the program’s importance, even though it’s not exactly a transportation issue. That’s because Buttigieg just came back from his own parental leave after he and husband Chasten Buttigieg adopted twins.

Buttigieg didn’t publicize his parental leave—during which he did work on “major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” according to a spokesman—until he returned from it. The news that a Cabinet member—a gay, male Cabinet member—had taken parental leave drew predictable partisan and in some cases overtly homophobic attacks, with Fox News host Tucker Carlson distinguishing himself with an eye-rollingly pathetic breastfeeding crack.

Buttigieg, on returning to his role as a public voice for the Biden agenda, deftly used his own story to make the case for paid family leave for everyone

“Look, paid family leave is important. It’s important as a matter of family values. It’s important to our economy. And one more thing that I think is maybe underappreciated. When somebody welcomes a new child into their family and goes on leave to take care of that child, that’s not a vacation,” Buttigieg said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “It’s work. It’s joyful, wonderful, fulfilling work, but it is work. And it’s time that our nation join pretty much every other country in the world and recognize that.”

He echoed that in an interview with MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace. “What we have right now is an administration that’s actually pro-family, and I’m blessed to be able to experience that as an employee, being able to have the flexibility to take care of our newborn children, which is, by the way, work,” Buttigieg said. “It’s joyful work. It’s wonderful work, but it’s definitely work.”

But the fate of paid family leave in the hotly negotiated reconciliation bill remains unclear. Last week, Politico reported that the Senate bill might slash family leave funding by 40% from the House bill. That would likely involve reducing the length of paid leave from the 12 weeks that has proven to work best in other places, balancing the need for family bonding and care time with protecting women’s careers from mommy-tracking. It might also involve reducing the top pay replacement level, phasing in the program gradually, or setting an expiration date.

Multiple polls show more than 80% support for paid family leave. It is the standard in other nations around the world. But in the U.S., it’s running into the same stupid, short-sighted, political fight that has for so long kept us from being able to take time off to care for a newborn baby or a sick family member or get medical treatment ourselves while still being able to pay the bills.

Thanks, Sens. Manchin and Sinema! Great job, holding up a program supported by a large majority of Republican voters!

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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