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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defends family leave after being mocked by Fox News anchor

Buttigieg says it's time for the U.S. to join "pretty much every other country in the world" on paid family leave.

WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended paid family leave Sunday after Fox News host Tucker Carlson mocked him for taking paternity leave to care for his newborn twins.

"When somebody welcomes a new child into their family and goes on leave to take care of that child, that's not a vacation. It's work. It's joyful, wonderful, fulfilling work, but it is work," Buttigieg said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Politico reported last week that Buttigieg had been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their twin babies, Penelope and Joseph.

On Thursday, Carlson said: "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."

Not long afterward, many people came to Buttigieg's defense, including White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who tweeted that she is "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."

Pressed about whether paid family leave will remain in President Joe Biden's $3.5 billion Build Back Better agenda, Buttigieg said it remains "in the president's vision," adding, "We'll see what the legislative process is going to bring."