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‘As an Engaged Citizen,’ Meghan Markle Cold-Calls Senators to Advocate for Paid Family Leave

‘As an Engaged Citizen,’ Meghan Markle Cold-Calls Senators to Advocate for Paid Family Leave

“This is Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex,” said the voice on the car phone speaker when West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito answered the blocked number, assuming it was her colleague Joe Manchin, who always calls her from a blocked number.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) also received an unexpected call from Meghan.

 

The Duchess of Sussex is reaching out to members of Congress as “an engaged citizen”, calling both Democratic and Republican Senators, according to a new report by Politico. Markle is continuing her campaign for paid family leave by speaking to Senators about the issue. Both Meghan, and her husband, Prince Harry, recently took 20 weeks of parental leave, in line with the policies of their Archewell Foundation.

A spokesperson for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) confirmed that she gave the Senators’ numbers to Meghan. “I talked to each of the women Senators and let them know that she’s going to reach out, because she only completed two of the calls,” Gillibrand said, according to Politico. “She’s going to call some others, so I let them know in advance.”

Gillibrand continued, “She wants to be part of a working group to work on paid leave long term and she’s going to be. Whether this comes to fruition now or later, she’ll be part of a group of women that hopefully will work on paid leave together.”

This isn’t the first time the Duchess of Sussex, the mother to son Archie, 2, and daughter Lili, 5 months, has set up her argument for national paid leave. Last month, Meghan wrote an open letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer published by Paid Leave for All. The letter recounts her own struggles with food insecurity and other issues when she was growing up:

“Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities. At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and daycares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost.”

Noting that the American dream has over time become “less about prosperity and more about achieving simple stability”, she continues: “I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler—it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember)—but what I do remember was the feeling: I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky.”

Speaker Pelosi announced Wednesday that Democrats are adding paid family leave back into the $1.75 trillion social spending and climate policy bill. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin currently opposes its inclusion.

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