Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is facing new scrutiny over revelations he took a “personal trip” to Portugal in the heat of negotiations to avert a rail strike over the summer.
“The secretary took a long-planned personal trip from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5,” a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told Fox News. “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 “Outnumbered” panelists on Thursday sounded off on the Biden administration’s “hypocrisy,” with co-host Emily Compagno noting Buttigieg’s taxpayer-funded salary meant Americans were footing the bill for his time off while rail workers pleaded with lawmakers for paid sick leave.
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“Do one or the other, but don’t waste my tax dollars and my time with you abdicating your responsibilities,” Compagno told the panel. “And the people who pay for it are the members of that union that got a horrible deal.”
“Unfortunately, truth is stranger than fiction here when it comes to this administration,” she continued. “The optics of this are so poor.”
Enes Kanter Freedom, a former NBA player, said he thought the story was fake when he initially learned of the timing of Buttigieg’s trip.
“I didn’t want to believe it,” he said. “While your people are here are protesting, and you’re going [on] vacation.”
“I thought it was one of those — The Onion news. I was like, ‘This could not be happening.'”
FOX Business’ Jackie DeAngelis immediately called attention to the hypocrisy of Biden officials and other elected Democrats.
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“They never miss an opportunity to take a trip,” she said. “You see Nancy Pelosi in Italy. You see Pete Buttigieg on this trip here, when we are at different crisis points. This rail strike was a huge issue for our economy.”
DeAngelis argued that Buttigieg will continue to be “rewarded” for his lack of hard work.
“People like Pete Buttigieg are never going to sort of take a step back and reflect on this because they’re in power, they continue to get votes, and people support them,” DeAngelis said.
FOX Business host Kennedy suggested that Buttigieg didn’t view the rail workers’ fight for sick pay as important enough to cancel or reschedule his vacation.
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“It’s all about his political ambitions,” she said. “You know, the people who should be served by his administration be damned.”
The DOT spokesperson did not say what the reason for Buttigieg’s trip was and did not answer a question about why the trip wasn’t publicly announced at the time. The secretary flew commercial.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.