From an exchange during Tuesday’s daily briefing between White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Newsmax TV White House correspondent Emerald Robinson:
According to the White House transcript:
MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Emerald. And then I’ll come back.
Q Thank you.
Q Thanks. I have follow-ups on a couple of topics. First off, Secretary Buttigieg: Given the seriousness of the — the supply chain crisis and the multiple issues that you outlined, wouldn’t it be wise for the Secretary to get back on the bicycle, so to speak, and come back to work? A new poll found that 65 percent of voters think that given what’s going on, he should come back to work.
MS. PSAKI: He’s at work.
Q He’s on paternity leave.
MS. PSAKI: I was on a conference call with him this morning.
Q So, he’s back? He’s in — he’s in the department now, every day?
MS. PSAKI: Listen, Emerald, I think what you’re getting at here is this question about whether men, parents, women should have paternity and maternity leave. And the answer is absolutely yes, in our view.
That is the policy of this administration. That is what we’re pressing to make law so it’s a reality for women, parents, fathers across the country. And we’re not going to back away from that.
Q Well, this is a little different job than a lot of — and as one of my colleagues noted, we knew the supply chain issues were coming.
On a different —
MS. PSAKI: Well, Emerald, just to be clear, we are quite confident in the capabilities, the talents of the civil servants, the leadership at the Department of Transportation, just are — as we are at companies across the country where women, men take maternity and paternity leave.
I took 12 weeks of maternity leave when I was the White House Communications Director, and I’m grateful to former President Obama for that and for leadership at the time for that.
This is something men, women should have. They should have this time to bond with their children. Not going to apologize from that — for that from here. And, certainly, we are able to get the job done for the American people in the interim.
Q And one last on that topic: Who was the point person? Who was the main person in charge in his paternity leave?
MS. PSAKI: There are a range of officials leading different components at the Department of Transportation, including the Chief of Staff, the Deputy Secretary of Transportation, a range of officials who keep that place humming, functioning every single day.
Q I have one more, though, on the vaccine mandates.
Q Thank you, Jen.
MS. PSAKI: I think we’re going to keep going along. Go ahead.