21 Republican Governors Push For ‘Commonsense’ Coronavirus Liability Protections In Next Stimulus Bill
In a Tuesday letter, a group of 21 Republican governors, including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, urged the top lawmakers in Congress to provide “commonsense” liability protections to businesses, schools, and healthcare providers—the push comes as Congress hunkers down in Washington to pass the next federal rescue bill with Covid-19 cases rising at an alarming rate across dozens of U.S. states.
“When Americans take sensible steps to implement public health best practices,” the governors wrote, “they should have confidence that they will be secure from unreasonable claims.”
As a result, businesses would be more confident about reopening, which would in turn spur economic growth and recovery.
The governors noted that those protections should not be considered a “license for gross negligence, misconduct or recklessness.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also pushed for “temporary and targeted” protections to ease the fear of “unwarranted” lawsuits for businesses trying to reopen.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said that expanding protections for workers, not companies, should be the priority, though some moderate Democrats have signaled that they are willing to compromise on the issue.
“To accelerate reopening our economies as quickly and as safely as possible, we must allow citizens to get back to their livelihoods and make a living for their families without the threat of frivolous lawsuits,” the governors wrote.
These liability protections will be front and center over the next few weeks as Congress scrambles to pass the next stimulus package. They are a “red line” item for Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who have signaled they will not pass a rescue bill that doesn’t include them. Negotiations among Republicans, Democrats, and the White House will ramp up in the coming days, with lawmakers and Trump administration officials sharply divided over this issue as well as a litany of other provisions like expanding enhanced unemployment benefits and more federal aid to state and local governments.
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