Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg jetted off for a vacation to Portugal as government and union negotiators worked to avert a nationwide rail-worker strike earlier this year.
The secretary’s previously unknown “personal trip” to the city of Porto was taken just a week before Amtrak announced the cancellation of long-distance routes in anticipation of a strike, the Washington Free Beacon reported on Wednesday.
“The secretary took a long-planned personal trip from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5,” a Department of Transportation spokesperson told multiple outlets. “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 strike threatened to cost the US economy more than $2 billion in lost output per day.
Biden administration negotiators were eventually able to reach a tentative agreement with eight of the 12 rail-worker unions on Sept. 15, and Congress forced the deal upon all of them earlier this month.
On Sept. 1, while still on vacation, Buttigieg posted a video of himself on Twitter that implied he was at a US airport. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor was wearing a suit and touting the DOT’s new Airline Customer Service Dashboard in the video.
President Biden cited the “hard work” of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, and Buttigieg when the White House announced the tentative deal.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who voted against forcing the contract on union groups, jabbed Buttigieg on Twitter Wednesday for the trip.
“Nice that Mayor Pete had time to vacation in Europe while forcing rail workers to go without sick days,” Hawley wrote.
Buttigieg’s travel habits also made headlines earlier this week when it was reported that he flew 18 times on taxpayer-funded private jets since taking office in January 2021.
According to the report, Buttigieg has used two taxpayer-funded Cessna 560XL jets managed by the Federal Aviation Administration for trips to states including Nevada, Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, and New Hampshire.