House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) just got the news from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that the next coronavirus stimulus package will contain liability protection for business owners — a proposal that Pelosi has attempted to reject already.
Pelosi has characterized passing another coronavirus rescue package as an “emergency,” and attempted to blame Republicans for holding a deal up, but refuses to come to the table with the Senate GOP to find a solution.
A looming issue in the age of COVID-19 is that of how business owners can keep their doors open without exposing themselves to liability if employee’s contract coronavirus while at work.
Republicans have staunchly affirmed that business owners should receive legal protection if employee’s contract the virus while at work if the owners have made a good faith effort to prevent the spread of the virus within the workplace.
Democrats have repeatedly rejected the idea, however, with Pelosi recently proclaiming that “What they’re saying to essential workers, ‘you have to go to work because you’re essential. We’ve placed no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe.'”
Pelosi said last week that liability protections would be a dealbreaker for Democrats, but Mitch McConnell is sticking to his guns.
McConnell said in May that “I think I can safely say, for our team here, the Republican Senate majority if there’s any red line, it’s on litigation” in regard to the newest coronavirus relief bill, which has been hotly debated for months.
McConnell doubled down in an interview with NewsRadio 840 WHAS on Friday:
Look, ultimately, if we get a deal, I’ll be the one to put it on the floor in the Senate. I assure you it will have liability protection in it. The president and the administration are for it. But, apparently, there was some rumor that they were prepared to negotiate it away. That’s not going to happen.
Fight ramps up
GOP and Democrat lawmakers have been clashing over the next coronavirus stimulus bill since May when Pelosi put forth a $3 trillion proposal that distributed millions of federal dollars to causes entirely unrelated to COVID-19.
The White House also jumped into the debate over liability protections, signaling that Trump’s priorities lie elsewhere, a surprising departure from Trump and McConnell’s typically aligned goals.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Friday who had asked if the White House was willing to “pass” on liability protections: “That’s a question for Mitch McConnell. He said that that’s going to be a part of any bill. … That’s his priority. … This president is very keenly focused on unemployment insurance.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, however, told Bloomberg on Friday that if McConnell chooses to prioritize liability protections, “we support him in that decision.”