Paid family leave is 'not a vacation,' Buttigieg says

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Harris's office undergoes difficult reset The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron MORE, who welcomed the birth of adopted twins last month, said on Sunday that paid family leave is “not a vacation.”

“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 during “Meet the Press” on NBC. “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.”

In early September, the transportation secretary and his husband announced the birth of twins Penelope Rose and Joseph August. Politico reported on Thursday that Buttigieg had been on paid family leave since mid-August. The issue of taking paid family leave was mocked by Fox News host Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonRittenhouse says he's destroying gun used in fatal Kenosha shootings NBA's Enes Kanter: Americans criticizing their country should 'keep their mouth shut' The serious and growing danger of vigilantism MORE during his prime-time show.

"Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child. Paternity leave, they call it. Trying to figure out how to breastfeed, no word on how that went," Carlson said.

Carlson’s remarks come despite the fact that his employer has a six-week paternity leave policy, which some of his colleagues have taken advantage of such as “Fox & Friends First” co-host Todd Piro.

Those comments ignited a backlash among Democrats, including White House officials, who defended the new father for taking time off.

“Also 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,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Overnight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Researcher who helped discover omicron blasts travel bans: 'Is that how you reward science?' MORE tweeted on Friday.

“Meet the Press” host Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddHealth officials warn against jumping to conclusions on omicron Cohen says Weisselberg not 'key' to Trump case Cohen says Trump will lose if he runs in 2024 MORE noted during the interview that while paid family leave has been included in the Democrat’s massive spending bill, Todd suggested it may not be in the final version of the reconciliation package.

“You know, let me tell you, it is in the president's vision. And we'll see what the legislative process is going to bring. But the president's been very clear on what he's calling for. And the American people want this too. And frankly, I view this as something, or I wish at least that this were something that Republicans could join Democrats in calling for,” Buttigieg said.