During the height of supply-chain blockages and a shipping crisis in 2021, Buttigieg—whose name is often mentioned as a future presidential contender—was on an extended paternity leave after having adopted two young children with his husband, Chasten.
Buttigieg’s “personal trip” to Porto, Portugal took place in late August, just a week before Amtrak announced the temporary cancelation of several long-distance routes in anticipation of a strike. The Biden administration was able to negotiate with the rail worker unions to reach a tentative agreement on Sept. 15, but that quickly fell apart.
Buttigieg didn’t get back from vacation until Sept. 5.
“The secretary took a long-planned personal trip from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5,” a Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed in a statement. “As usual, while traveling on personal time he remained available and engaged on urgent issues, which in this case meant multiple calls with staff and stakeholders to work on the topic of rail labor negotiations.”
On Sept. 1, while he was on vacation, Buttigieg posted a video touting the DOT’s new Airline Customer Service Dashboard, but said nothing about his role in the Biden administration’s negotiations with rail worker unions.
Republicans who objected to the Biden administration’s proposed rail worker deal, which was eventually forced onto the unions by Congress, blasted Buttigieg for being absent during a strike that could have cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day.
“Nice that Mayor Pete had time to vacation in Europe while forcing rail workers to go without sick days,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted.
GOP spokesperson Tommy Pigott blasted Buttigieg for “quiet quitting”—a trendy phenomenon for Zoomers and Millennial employees, largely working from home without much oversight, who have lost their motivation but still wish to continue drawing a paycheck.
“He was literally phoning it in from Portugal during the rail strike,” Pigott wrote. “If he wants to quit, he should just do it.”
The report about Buttigieg’s Portugal vacation comes just days after another report revealing he uses taxpayer-funded private jets regularly.
In fact, since January 2021, Buttigieg has used a government private jet 18 times to fly to states including Nevada, Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, and New Hampshire.