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Biden accused of double standards after allowing Buttigieg to take months off for his newborn twins

White House officials said on Thursday that paid family and medical leave remained a priority for President Biden, despite having to drop it from a massive spending bill to woo centrist holdouts.

Liberals and members of Biden’s leadership team insisted the idea was not dead, amid mounting anger that a key plank of his election campaign had been dropped. 

It comes barely days after his administration was criticized by conservatives for allowing Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to take weeks’ of leave after he adopted newborn twins during a supply chain crisis.  

On Thursday, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president flew to Rome: ‘It is a big priority.

‘It’s very much a priority. That’s why the president included it in his Build Back Better agenda. Right now the president wants to move forward [with a bill] that’s going to get passed. That’s going to get all the members that he needs… 

President Joe Biden touted a Build Back Better framework, but it did not have paid leave provisions he has called for

‘We’re just going to have to continue to work on it,’ she said.

Biden ran for president on a promise to curb growing inequality, including a promise to offer paid family and medical leave to all Americans.

He originally proposed 12 weeks in his economic agenda but last week admitted that it had been whittled down to four weeks, before it was excised altogether in order to placate his moderate wing.

Although he cannot lose the support of more than a handful of Democrats in the House to pass his proposals, he cannot afford to lose a single senator – and Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have dug their heels in over the cost of Biden’s plan. 

'No one got everything they wanted, included me,' President Joe Biden said as he pitched the latest framework for his 'Build Back Better' plan

‘No one got everything they wanted, included me,’ President Joe Biden said as he pitched the latest framework for his ‘Build Back Better’ plan

Buttigieg, 39, and his husband Chasten, 32, have recently adopted twins, Joseph and Penelope, which they officially announced on September 4. Earlier this month, it was learned that Pete Buttigieg was on paid paternity leave

Buttigieg, 39, and his husband Chasten, 32, have recently adopted twins, Joseph and Penelope, which they officially announced on September 4. Earlier this month, it was learned that Pete Buttigieg was on paid paternity leave

President Joe Biden (left) arrived at the Capitol on Thursday as a last ditch effort to facilitate negotiations before his Europe trip. He proposed a new Build Back Better framework outside of the current social spending package

President Joe Biden (left) arrived at the Capitol on Thursday as a last ditch effort to facilitate negotiations before his Europe trip. He proposed a new Build Back Better framework outside of the current social spending package

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s took paternity leave after he and his husband, Chasten, welcomed adopted twins into their family

But with negotiators trying to placate centrists, progressives expressed their anger while several key players said they hoped paid leave could be negotiated back in. 

But amid the chaos of the final decisions around the ‘framework,’ some senators were not giving up. Sen. Kyrsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) could be seen lobbying Manchin over a modified proposal, buttonholing him on the Senate floor. 

‘If you want me to write it, I’ll write it. I just want to get it in this bill,’ she told him, Buzzfeed reported. 

She had announced earlier: ‘Until the bill is printed, I will continue working to include paid leave in the Build Back Better plan.’

Commentators pointed out that dropping the plan left the U.S. as one of just six countries without any form of national paid leave and one of eight without maternity leave, according to the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA.  

And it means the Biden White House must defend dropping a policy that it extended to cabinet members, such as Buttigieg.

He was mocked earlier this month by conservative commentators for taking time off to care for his new twins.

But he defended the policy.  

‘Somebody welcomes a new child into their family and goes on leave to take care of that child, that’s not a vacation. It’s work. It’s joyful, wonderful, fulfilling work, but it is work,’ he said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, said paid leave remained a work in progress.

‘There are some things that are not in that I frankly have not given up on,’ she said at her weekly press conference. 

‘I still would like to see paid leave for the babies, if we can’t get the rest. But that’s still a work in progress, shall we say.’ 

Among those blasting the provision being dropped from the plan was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who on Thursday backed a move by House progressives to withhold support for an infrastructure bill until the Build Back Better deal was resolved.

 Sanders earlier called the move ‘extremely disappointing’ and said it could endanger the package.

‘Again, we’re the only major country on earth’ that doesn’t have it, he said. ‘If a low-income woman has a baby, she’s forced back to work after a week. Moms have to make the choice between staying home with their sick kids or losing their jobs? It’s not acceptable,’ he fumed. 




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