Gillibrand plans to invite Meghan Markle to dinner with female senators to discuss push for paid family leave

The duchess has been calling senators to address paid leave in the funding bill.

Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she plans to invite Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, to Washington, D.C., for a bipartisan dinner with female senators in the next month to discuss paid leave.

In an interview with The 19th, Gillibrand said Markle called her to help ensure that paid leave stays in the final version of the social spending bill. In return, the senator extended an invitation for dinner in December.

"I could hear how sincere she was about advocacy," Gillibrand told The 19th.

Gillibrand said that Republican Sen. Deb Fisher of Nebraska was "delighted and looking forward to that conversation."

Markle has been working behind the scenes to ensure that paid leave is passed, including lobbying Republican senators for their votes, such as Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine, according to Politico.

I'm in my car. I'm driving. It says 'caller ID blocked'," the senator recounted to Politico, with details confirmed to ABC News by her spokesman. "I thought it was Sen. Manchin. His calls come in blocked. And she goes, 'Sen. Capito?' I said, 'Yes?' She said, 'This is Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.'"

Paid family leave has been a topic of hot debate for inclusion in President Joe Biden's spending bill. Early in negotiations, the bill would have included 12 weeks, before being lowered to four, and then dropped entirely due to a lack of support from moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, W.Va. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that the House was adding the four-week leave back into the bill, though whether it will garner support in the Senate remains unclear.

Last month, Markle wrote a letter to Congress on the website,, advocating for paid family leave in the U.S.

"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 why I'm writing to you at this deeply important time—as a mom—to advocate for paid leave," Markle wrote.

In the letter, she describes how hard her family worked to provide for her growing up and how the pandemic has pushed millions of women out of the workforce.

"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," she wrote. "The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost."

Markle, a mother of two, acknowledged that she and her family in no way face the same challenges now that others do when it comes to raising a family.

"Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed," Markle wrote, recalling the moment she brought home her newborn daughter. "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."

Markle noted that most other nations already have paid leave policies for all workers.

"Many other countries have robust programs that give months of time for both parents (birth or adoptive) to be 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."

ABC News’ Trish Turner contributed to this report.