Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Thursday criticized U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for being missing in action as thousands of flights get canceled and United States ports face record-breaking delays.
Blackburn told Breitbart:
We’re in the middle of a transportation crisis, and Pete Buttigieg is sitting at home. Meanwhile, cargo boats are unable to dock and shelves are sitting empty. Pete needs to either get back to work or leave the Department of Transportation. It’s time to put American families first.
Blackburn’s comments come after Politico reported that Buttigieg has been on paid leave since mid-August, electing to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies rather than doing his job as transportation secretary.
According to Politico:
“For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. “He has been ramping up activities since then.” As he does that, Buttigieg will “continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children,” the spokesperson added.
On Monday, reports came in showing “a visible sea of congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.” This week’s port delays are nothing new. Last month, a record-breaking 62 cargo ships waited on average ten days to dock in the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
As Breitbart reported:
On September 22, ports in both Los Angeles and Long Beach reported more than 150 ships docked in port, which included 95 container ships. The number of ships docked Wednesday was more than double that of pre-pandemic averages when the ports typically dealt with 60-70 ships at once.
The Biden administration finally addressed this ongoing supply chain crisis weeks after it began. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced the Port of Los Angeles will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Americans are beginning to feel the impact of these supply chain disruptions as they hurt 88 percent of small business owners. These disruptions will also impact Americans during Christmastime. The White House admitted “there will be things you can’t get” for Christmas while we battle with the supply chain issues.
Port delays are not the only issue currently affecting American transportation. Beginning last weekend and continuing into this week, Southwest Airlines canceled over 2,000 flights and delayed hundreds more.
Buttigieg notably remained silent while flights were canceled, taking time only to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Columbus Day).
Although federal workers are now eligible for paid leave, as cabinet secretary, Buttigieg is not eligible for the benefits afforded to lower-level federal workers. “Individuals in the executive branch who are appointed by the President to positions in the Executive Schedule are not covered by the leave system,” an Office of Personnel Management spokesperson said. “They do not earn leave and serve at the pleasure of the President. The President can choose to allow him to take time off.”