“Liability Protection”–Mitch McConnell’s Next Raw Deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

As The Hill reports, there’s a fresh battle brewing over the next round of coronavirus economic stimulus legislation, and the Democratic-controlled House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing off against Mitch McConnell to protect the legal rights of workers as businesses reopen:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Democrats will not support the business liability protections that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is requesting to appear in the next CARES Act.

The Speaker said during her press briefing that both she and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have said their priority is to protect workers and patients, not businesses…

“My red line going forward on this bill is we need to provide protection, litigation protection, for those who have been on the front lines. … We can’t pass another bill unless we have liability protection,” McConnell said during an interview on Fox News Tuesday.

“Let me make it perfectly clear, the Senate is not interested in passing a bill that does not have liability protection,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

After McConnell caught a wave of blowback for suggesting that bankruptcy for states might be preferable to further infusions of federal aid during the pandemic, which Sen. Cory Gardner still hasn’t been asked to comment on, he’s since conceded that further aid is going to be necessary to offset massive budget shortfalls like the devastating $3 billion decline Colorado is now forecasting for the current year. But what McConnell is asking for in return appears to be its own dealbreaker, Politico reports:

“We probably will do another bill. What I’m saying is it won’t just be about money. It will be about other things that we think are important in the aftermath of this pandemic. And at the top of my list is liability protections for the brave people who have been manning the front lines during this and the brave people who will be opening their businesses fearful that they will be sued,” McConnell said on Monday.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has introduced a bill that would shield front-line health care workers from some lawsuits.

Schumer said he didn’t understand exactly what McConnell was proposing but urged McConnell to “stop putting barriers in the way” of more money for local governments. McConnell and the Trump administration fought the inclusion of $150 billion in state and local aid on last week’s $484 billion coronavirus bill, the fourth bill responding to the crisis.

“Is he saying if an owner tells a worker they have to work next to somebody who might have coronavirus, without a mask or PPE, that that owner wouldn’t be liable? That make[s] no sense,” Schumer said. [Pols emphasis]

Specific liability protections for health care workers, which is what Sen. Ben Sasse has proposed, are one thing. But McConnell’s conflation of a more defensible limited liability exemption for health care workers with any business being permitted to force employees into danger while shielded from legal responsibility is outrageously misleading. It’s bad enough that President Donald Trump just ordered meat packing plants to stay open with or without proper safeguards for the workers, by Trump’s own admission an order to resolve “liability problems” for meat producers.

If Mitch McConnell gets his way, we’re all the economy’s sacrificial lambs.

4 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. gertie97 says:

    So much for the GOP's self-vaunted “personal responsibility.''


  2. Diogenesdemar says:


    Mitch McConnell is gaslighting Democrats (again)

    [He is framing necessary stimulus measures as concessions. Democrats should call his bluff.]

    McConnell wants to trade state and local aid for corporate protections

    On Monday, McConnell showed his hand. He will demand that the next stimulus bill include liability protections for business owners that reopen after (or, if their governors allow it, during) the pandemic. 

    Protecting bosses from lawsuits, allowing them to put front-line workers in danger without fear of repercussion, really is a wish-list item — from a corporate wish list. It is nakedly partisan in a way state and local aid is not.

    Nonetheless, as Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis says, McConnell is setting himself up for a trade: aid to states in exchange for liability protections.

    It would be utterly bananas for Democrats to accept these terms. State and local aid is a necessity and something Republicans are going to sign off on eventually, unless they want to answer for a procession of laid-off red-state teachers and firefighters. 

    But protecting corporate executives from worker lawsuits is just a crude bit of corruption, nothing Democrats would ever agree to in normal circumstances. It’s not a fair trade; it’s McConnell manipulating the playing field, trying to get something for his donors in exchange for something he would have to do anyway.

    When it comes to McConnell, the most cynical interpretation is usually the correct one. Whatever words may be coming out of his mouth, what he is doing it trying to maximize partisan advantage.


  3. kickshot says:

    Sure!! Why not have PLCAA for every industry that wants it?!?!?!?

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