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Biden jokes about Pete Buttigieg’s age, sings him ‘Happy Birthday’

By Jake Beardslee · January 21, 2024

In brief…

  • President Biden led a "Happy Birthday" serenade for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during an event at the White House.
  • Biden was continuing a tradition started by First Lady Jill Biden of singing for colleagues' birthdays.
  • The song took place at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting attended by Buttigieg and other mayors.
  • Buttigieg, who turned 42 on January 19, grinned and shook Biden's hand after the joking serenade.
President Biden sang "Happy Birthday" to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at a White House event, carrying on First Lady Jill Biden's tradition of celebrating colleagues with impromptu serenades.  Pete For America/Wikimedia

President Biden continued a tradition started by first lady Jill Biden of singing “Happy Birthday” to colleagues, when he led a serenade for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during an event at the White House on Friday.

“Pete turned 30 today,” Biden joked about Buttigieg, who is actually 42, drawing laughter from the crowd. “My wife, she has a tradition in her family…on everybody’s birthday, you’ve got to sing ‘Happy Birthday,’” he explained.

The birthday song took place during the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, attended by Buttigieg along with a group of mayors from around the country. The conference brings mayors together to engage with the President and Congress on pressing national issues. This year marked the 92nd meeting since the conference began during the Great Depression.

After the song, Buttigieg walked up to the podium to shake Biden’s hand and thank him for the festive moment. Video footage shows Buttigieg grinning broadly during the serenade.

While Buttigieg celebrated a birthday this month, he actually turned 42 on January 19th. Biden’s joke about him turning 30 poked fun at the transportation secretary’s youthful appearance.

The impromptu birthday celebration reflects the close working relationship between Biden and Buttigieg. Since his confirmation as transportation secretary, Buttigieg has helped promote the Biden administration’s infrastructure plans and oversaw the implementation of key policies.