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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday responded to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who mocked Buttigieg for taking parental leave after the birth of his children.

What he's saying: "I'm not going to apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else to taking care of our premature twins," Buttigieg told CNN's "State of the Union." 

  • "The work we are doing is joyful, fulfilling, important work, it's important work and it's work that every American ought to be able to do when they welcome a new child into their family," Buttigieg added.

Catch up fast: Carlson mocked Buttigieg on his show, saying the secretary was "trying to figure out how to breastfeed" after Politico reported Buttigieg had been on leave since mid-August.

Buttigieg said every American parent should be able to take parental leave after welcoming a new child, and advocated for the family leave measure in President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending package.

  • "I campaigned on that. So did the president," Buttigieg said. "It's past time to make it possible for every American mother and father to take care of their children when a new child arrives in the family."

Worth noting: Buttigieg said his deputy at the Department of Transportation, Polly Trottenberg, is filling in for him when he's not available, though he has continued to stay engaged.

  • "When you take a job like mine, you understand and accept that you will have to be available 24/7 depending on what's going on," Buttigieg said.
  • "You will have to engage. I did, even if that meant taking a phone call or making a decision from a hospital room. I am so thankful for the phenomenal work my colleagues at the Department of Transportation have done and are doing."

Go deeper

Texas loses billions to child care breakdowns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A dearth of affordable child care is putting a massive dent in the Texas economy.

  • Parents are missing work or leaving jobs to take care of children in a landscape pock-marked by the pandemic and labor shortages, according to new research by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

3 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.