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Meghan Markle’s lobbying fails as Joe Biden drops paid leave from infrastructure bill

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Meghan Markle‘s attempts to influence Biden’s $1.75 trillion infrastructure plan have fallen short, it was revealed on Thursday, as the President announced he has dropped paid leave for new parents from his bill, just days after the Duchess penned a lobbyist letter pleading for it to be made a ‘national right’. 

The 40-year-old mother-of-two sparked furious controversy earlier this month when she turned lobbyist by writing an open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer advocating for paid family leave. 

Meghan’s extraordinary 1,030-word letter, which was written on the Sussexes’ new post-Megxit letterhead, sparked furious controversy – and saw the Duchess accused of using her British royal title to try and meddle in US politics.

Some also suggested that she was using ‘tactics of an aspiring politician’ and adopting a ‘ruthless streak’ to try and influence Biden’s Build Back Better bill.   

However her efforts have now been proven in vain after the President announced on Thursday that he has cut his proposals for paid national leave for all new parents from his infrastructure bill, which has been tangled up in Congress for months, in a bid to push it forward. 

Meghan Markle's attempt to make paid leave for new parents a 'national right' have failed after it was revealed President Joe Biden has dropped the plan from his $1.75T infrastructure bill

Meghan Markle’s attempt to make paid leave for new parents a ‘national right’ have failed after it was revealed President Joe Biden has dropped the plan from his $1.75T infrastructure bill 

President Biden detailed a compromised version of his proposal on Thursday - eight days after Meghan, 40, turned lobbyist by writing to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer about paid leave

President Biden detailed a compromised version of his proposal on Thursday – eight days after Meghan, 40, turned lobbyist by writing to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer about paid leave

In the letter, which was handed out to several of the Sussexes’ preferred media outlets, Meghan, who grew up in a middle class family in Los Angeles, said that she was writing to Pelosi and Schumer not as an ‘elected official’ nor a ‘politician’ but as an ‘engaged citizen and parent… and as a mom’. 

In one of the most astonishing parts of her letter, she suggested that her own family was impoverished, even though her father was an Emmy award-winning lighting director and she was educated at private primary and secondary schools. 

She painted a picture of humble beginnings and saying that her family struggled when she was young – despite her well-documenting middle class upbringing on Thomas Markle’s $200,000-a-year salary.  

‘I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler,’ the Duchess of Sussex wrote. ‘I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky. I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13.’

She continued: ‘I waited tables, babysat, and piecemealed jobs together to cover odds and ends.’ 

However, Meghan failed to mention the $750,000 California state lottery win her father scooped in 1990, which funded her secondary education at $9,412-a-semester Immaculate Heart High School in LA. 

Meghan also attended a private primary school – Hollywood’s Little Red Schoolhouse nursery, which now costs between $20,000 and $28,300-a-year – from age two on her father Thomas’ and her airline steward mother Doria’s salaries.

She went on to study at Northwestern, in Illinois, which would have cost between $24,000- and $28,000-a-year for tuition when Meghan studied there from 1999 to 2003. 

The Duchess of Sussex published an open letter to the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader on October 20, in which she referenced her own childhood and her life as a mother

The Duchess of Sussex published an open letter to the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader on October 20, in which she referenced her own childhood and her life as a mother 

Also missing from the letter was any mention of the sprawling $14million mansion in Montecito, California, where Meghan now lives with husband Prince Harry and their two children. The couple’s series of lucrative deals with Spotify and Netflix, thought to be worth well over $150million, were also omitted. 

Meghan did concede that she has not had to struggle in the same way that other parents who are not offered paid leave have, however she admitted that both she and Prince Harry, 37, felt ‘overwhelmed’ after they welcomed their second child, Lilibet, earlier this year. 

‘In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child,’ she said.

‘Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.’

Meghan and Harry were able to take four months family leave after the birth of their daughter Lilibet in June this year, retreating to their Montecito home for several months before returning to work in September.

The Duchess was also able to take time off after having Archie in 2019, staying at home for four months before returning to work.

The couple also reportedly used nannies to look after their children in the UK, and hired and fired several after Archie was born in 2019. 

Meghan lived in a series of childhood homes in Los Angeles - including a second-floor apartment on Providencia Street, in Woodland Hills

Meghan lived in a series of childhood homes in Los Angeles – including a second-floor apartment on Providencia Street, in Woodland Hills

After her parents divorced in 1983, Meghan and her mother Doria moved into a top-floor apartment (pictured) in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of LA

After her parents divorced in 1983, Meghan and her mother Doria moved into a top-floor apartment (pictured) in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of LA

Meghan then went on to attack the American economic system.

‘Many of our economic systems are past their expiration date, and as you well know, too many Americans are forced to shortchange themselves when it comes to what matters to them.’ 

Despite Meghan’s claims that her letter was sent as ‘an engaged citizen, parent, and mom’, it was viewed by many as her most overtly political intervention in US life yet after speculation she has dreams of being a Democrat politician or even to run for US President.

Angela Levin, journalist and biographer of Prince Harry, told MailOnline that while the Duchess is an American citizen, the letter from ‘the office of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ signed ‘on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry’, amounts to Meghan using her British title and marriage to the sixth in line to the throne to interfere in US politics.

She said: ‘Meghan’s two page letter to lobby Congress about giving money on parental leave, is obviously another step towards trying to turn herself into a politician. But the notepaper she is using is astonishingly “From the Office of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex” and shows how she isn’t even aware that she is talking to politicians in a republic that won its independence from the crown in 1776.

‘The truth is that the bill about parental leave is on its way to being confirmed, and could be hijack by Meghan’s belief it was largely due to her. In addition if she was writing a profession letter what on earth is she getting all cosy and intimate by stating the letter is also ‘on behalf of Archie and Lili – notice she is not calling her Lillibet, the Queen’s nickname – and Harry. Poor old Harry has come last’.

Prince Charles is known to have written to several US Presidents over the years, including Joe Biden, and also sent the so called ‘Black Spider Letters’ to British government ministers and politicians over the years, but never in the same public way as Meghan’s missive to Schumer and Pelosi.  

Meghan Markle’s 1030-word paid parental leave plea letter in full 

Dear Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi,

I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent.

And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s how I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid parental leave.

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 day cares 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. 

For many, this sacrifice goes back further than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer – decades of giving time, body and endless energy not just in pursuit of the American dream, but simply in the dream of stability.

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. And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go for dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory – because that’s what those families could afford to do too.

I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13. I waited tables, babysat, and piece-mealed jobs together to cover odds and ends. I worked all my life and saved when and where I could – but even that was a luxury – because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.

I expect many of your constituents have their own version of that story. Perhaps you do too. People in our country work incredibly hard, and yet the ask is soft; for a level playing field to achieve their version of a common dream – what is fair, and equal and right. Many of our economic systems are past their expiration date, and as you well know, too many Americans are forced to shortchange themselves when it comes to what matters to them.

In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work. We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family. We knew that by doing so, we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.

No family should be faced with these decisions. 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). 

In taking care of your child, you take care of your community, and you take care of your country – because when paid leave is a right, we’re creating a foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line. Instead, as it stands now, we spend a fortune as a country paying into symptoms rather than causes. I understand that with everything going on these days, people might find it easy to be apathetic about what’s happening in Washington D.C. And then equally, when it feels like your voice doesn’t matter, you tend to use it less often, but with stakes this high none of us can afford to let apathy win.

I’m writing to you on behalf millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate. In fact, most nations already have paid leave policies in place. Estonia, for example, offers over a year and a half of leave to be shared by new parents. Many other countries have robust programs that give months of time for both parents (birth or adoptive) to be at home with their child. The United States in stark contrast does not federally guarantee any person a single day of paid leave. And fewer than one in four workers has dedicated paid family leave through their employer. I’m sure you agree that if we are to continue to be exceptional, then we can’t be the exception.

The families you represent need your strong leadership. With paid leave on the cusp of becoming a national reality, I trust you will meet this moment. I know you must hear from your constituents about the choices they are facing every day to make ends meet and care for their families. 

Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists. If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.

I know how politically charged things can – and have – become. But this isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong. This is about putting families above politics. And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.

So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.

As ever, 

Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex 

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