Kirsten Gillibrand to invite Meghan Markle to D.C. to push for family leave

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, is inviting Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, to Washington to advocate for paid family leave.

In an interview, Ms. Gillibrand said the former actress and wife of royal grandson Prince Harry called her to discuss the issue.

“I could hear how sincere she was about advocacy,” Ms. Gillibrand said in an interview with The 19th, which ran on Thursday.

The Duchess of Sussex called Ms. Gillibrand, who authored her own family leave bill in 2013, on the phone and expressed a desire to help.

Ms. Gillibrand said she plans to invite Ms. Markle to Washington next month to participate in a bipartisan dinner to talk about family leave with female senators. She also said that she gave Ms. Markle, the mother of two children with Prince Harry, the phone numbers of some Republican senators to push for paid leave.

Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine both said this week they had received calls from Ms. Markle.

Paid family leave was initially included in President Biden’s massive social spending bill, but it was dropped in the final intraparty negotiations and Democrats this week have talked about adding it back into the bill.

In a letter to colleagues on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said paid family leave will return to the proposal, although some moderate Democrats have raised concerns.

Democrats had initially sought to mandate 12 weeks of paid parental leave, but that was cut down to four before being dropped from the bill altogether after Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, objected.

Ms. Markle last month penned an open letter to Ms, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, in support of the government program.

“No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan),” Ms. Markle wrote.

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