On several occasions in recent months, the U.S. has been on the verge of an economic meltdown due to strike threats from major railroad worker unions.
The situation became so dire that it involved presidential intervention and presumably required all hands on deck — all hands besides Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Buttigieg, one of the Biden administration Cabinet members who should have been front and center during the heated back-and-forth negotiations, apparently had better things to do, like take a swanky European vacation.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, Buttigieg took a trip to Porto, Portugal, where he stayed for about a week at the end of August and into September for a lovely Labor Day weekend getaway.
That was when the rail worker union negotiations with rail carriers entered a critical stage, even causing commercial carriers like Amtrak to suspend operations because the outlook was looking grim.
A shutdown of the U.S. rail system would have cost the economy an estimated $2 billion per day, The Associated Press reported, and that’s just one part of the equation. The supply chain interruptions would have been catastrophic, to say the least.
A spokeswoman for Buttigieg described the vacation as a “long-planned personal trip.”
“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,” the spokeswoman said.
Because nothing says leadership like the guy in charge of all U.S. transportation phoning in from 3,500 miles away. What a total joke.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri slammed the transportation secretary for the optics of being on vacation while his presence was needed more than at any point in his Cabinet career thus far.
“Pete Buttigieg will take paid vacation in Europe for days on end but doesn’t think rail workers should get more than one day of sick leave,” Hawley said, according to the Free Beacon. “This is the same guy who took months of paid leave at the height of the supply chain crisis.”
Hawley added, “If rail workers showed up for work as rarely as Buttigieg does, the country would fall apart.”
Buttigieg apparently didn’t want his vacation to be known to the public. The Free Beacon noted that there was no formal announcement about the trip from the Department of Transportation or Buttigieg himself.
Buttigieg even went as far as casting the illusion that he was working while he was actually in Europe, as he posted a video of himself speaking at an airport on Sept. 1, in the middle of his vacation.
For the first time, @USDOT is providing consumers with a comparative look at what the top airlines have committed to when your flight is canceled or delayed because of an airline issue. pic.twitter.com/AGd7LQovvr
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) September 1, 2022
Nobody expected Buttigieg to swoop in and end whatever crisis was looming, just like we don’t expect President Joe Biden to end the illegal immigration crisis. But all they have to do to avoid so much justifiably negative press is simply show up for the job. Be at the negotiations. Take a trip to the border. It’s not that difficult.
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