The White House defended Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for taking paternity leave amid a raft of criticism, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki calling him a “role model.”

Ms Psaki quote-tweeted a message from Rep Katherine Clark of Massachusetts saying that going on paternity leave is not is not missing in action, but rather “it’s called being a parent.”

“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,” Ms Psaki tweeted.

The “MIA” reference came was to Politico, which wrote that Mr Buttigieg “has been MIA,” as the United States faces multiple challenges with its supply chain, which the White House has tried to manage. The outlet reported that Mr Buttigieg went on paid paternity leave after he and his wife Chasten adopted two children.

Conservatives, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, criticized Mr Buttigieg, a former presidential candidate, for going on paternity leave.

“Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed, no word on how that went,” Mr Carlson said on his program.

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