Meghan Markle Asks Congress to Pass Biden's Paid Family Leave Program

Photo: (Photo : John Lamparski/Getty Images)

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has openly expressed her support for a national paid family leave program, which is currently under debate at the U.S. Congress. In her letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the mother-of-two, detailed that this is a "national right."

The Duchess of Sussex said that the pandemic had exposed "long-existing" problems in the community, particularly among family units. Millions of working moms or parents had no choice but to quit their jobs to assume homeschooling duties with their children during the lockdowns.

Markle said parents continue to face a "conflict of being present or being paid" amid the return to normalcy, post-pandemic. The duchess, who married British royal Prince Harry, said that after giving birth to her second child in the summer, she was also faced with the reality of going back to work or spending time with her new baby's critical months. She acknowledged that she was lucky to take her job with the Archewell Foundation home while spending 20 weeks of parental leave.

However, Markle said that no family should grapple with choices between "earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child." Thus, she believes that paid family leave is a national right instead of a "patchwork of options."

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The Heart of 'Build Back Better'

Paid family leave is the heart of President Joe Biden's massive Build Back Better proposal, which will undergo a vote on the floor in the coming weeks. Markle's push comes as 15 members of the Senate Democrats also wrote Pelosi and Schumer, urging the leaders to provide American families a permanent, universal, and comprehensive national paid leave program.

On Wednesday, October 20, Biden informed the Democrats in a meeting at the White House that the Build Back Better proposal could be scaled down to four weeks paid family leave from the original 12-week plan. The coverage could also be tested to just lower-income families due to budget constraints.

However, some of the senators have contested the potential cuts who said that a substantial paid family leave program would boost the country's economy and solve the crisis in child care. The group urged their leaders to "make a bold and robust investment in our nation's working families."

To date, only 23 percent of Americans in the workforce have access to paid family leave if they work in a private company or live in a state where such a program exists. The U.S. is the only developed nation in the world without a national paid family leave.

Biden Talks Child Care Struggles

During a visit to Connecticut, Biden made a deeply personal comment about a time in his past when he could not afford child care as a single parent raising two boys. He told the crowd that he realized that majority of families in America were in the same boat.

"I've been conscious of the concern in a lack of access, and a lack of financial ability to have child care, for a long time," Biden said.

The president said that passing the proposal would be a game-changer as it will allow many working parents to retain their status in the workforce and afford the cost of childcare at the same time. He said that it was time for the country to invest in the people because that's how "American democracy works."

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