Buttigieg on paternity leave since mid-August amid supply chain crunch, infrastructure debate


Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been on paternity leave since mid-August – with his time off coming amid the Biden administration‘s efforts to quell the supply chain crunch and the ongoing infrastructure debate on Capitol Hill to move forward with President Biden’s agenda.

Buttigieg’s office told Politico Playbook this week that he has been off since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, as they welcomed 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 Department of Transportation told Politico Playbook this week. “He has been ramping up activities since then.” 

The spokesperson said that as he slowly gets back to the grind, Buttigieg will “continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children.” 

Buttigieg’s time off comes as the Biden administration grapples with supply chain bottlenecks and amid efforts to ease shipping backlogs.


Supply chain issues are a source of mounting concern as global economies attempt to meet surging demand and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortages of basic household items, such as toilet paper, raw materials needed for construction and critical tech components, like semiconductors, have contributed to a surge in prices for consumers.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg arrives to attend an event on the global supply chain bottlenecks in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg arrives to attend an event on the global supply chain bottlenecks in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The White House, this week, announced that the Port of Los Angeles will work as a 24/7 operation to help ease the bottleneck at the Port of Long Beach. Officials said Long Beach has been working 24/7 the past three weeks.


Administration officials said large companies have also committed to using expanded hours to move more cargo from docks so ships can come to shore faster and reduce congestion during the day.

The companies who made the commitments to expanded-hour models include Walmart, which will increase its nighttime hours. Senior administration officials said that increase could be up to 50% over the next several weeks. Others planning expanded nighttime hours are UPS, which is committing to an increased use of 24/7 operations and enhanced data sharing with ports that could allow it to move up to 20% more containers from ports, and FedEx, which may double the volume of cargo it can move from ports at night.


In addition to Walmart, UPS and FedEx, officials said Samsung is committing to move nearly 60% more containers out of the ports by operating 24/7 through the next 90 days. Home Depot is committing to move up to 10% additional containers per week. Target, which is moving about 50% of its containers at night, has committed to increasing that amount by 10% during the next 90 days to help ease congestion at the ports.

Officials said that across the six companies, more than 3,500 additional containers per week will move at night through the end of the year.

The White House this week said that Buttigieg and Port Envoy John Porcari will work with stakeholders and help more businesses access the expanded hours.

As for the infrastructure debate, Democrats are targeting the end of October to pass an infrastructure package and reconciliation. That timeline could slip into November or beyond amid the ongoing clashes between moderate and progressive Democrats on the size of the package and on reconciliation.

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