“I don’t think at this time, with the coronavirus, that there’s any interest in having any less protection with our workers,” Pelosi said on Tuesday afternoon of McConnell’s argument. “We don’t need any prescription from anybody about mythology or just excuses not to do the job. It’s really sad — it’s disgraceful, because there is such tremendous need.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said there hasn’t been much discussion about the idea but that Democrats “do not want to make such action contingent upon any actions that we take on behalf of employees and employers and the public.”
A Democratic aide later clarified that Pelosi read McConnell’s Monday quotes on a leadership call yesterday, but Hoyer had yet to dial in. Pelosi and other top Democrats were in agreement that they don’t have any interest in McConnell’s idea.
Some Republicans from coronavirus-wracked states like Louisiana and New York want to provide more money to their states, while others oppose even the general idea of sending states money. After repeatedly panning bailouts of state and local governments and suggesting they might declare bankruptcy instead, McConnell on Monday said he could support adding more state and local money “provided we have the right kind of nonfinancial relief.”
“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 no sense,” Schumer said.
Quint Forgey contributed to this report.