- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drew a red line Tuesday, saying his chamber won’t take up a COVID-19 relief bill that doesn’t have liability protection against frivolous lawsuits.

As part of the HEALS Act, the GOP has proposed this week that schools, health care workers, nonprofits and retailers would have a safe harbor against lawsuits if they abide by guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There would still be gross negligence cases and legal challenges for intentional wrongdoing, though.

“No bill will be put on the Senate floor that does not have liability protection,” Mr. McConnell said.

“We are not talking about for businesses … that is not the entire story,” the Kentucky Republican added.

Democrats have alleged the GOP drafted a bill that was too pro-corporation, saying the legal safe harbor would last for nearly five years. It expires in 2024, according to the draft proposal.



But Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, who put that aspect of the coronavirus relief package together, said the protections are needed for businesses that are struggling to stay afloat.

“In this national emergency, during this pandemic, and during the time when our economy needs to safely reopen, liability protection is important for everybody,” Mr. Cornyn told reporters.

Democrats have also been critical of the GOP for putting nearly $2 billion in the package to rebuild the FBI building, which Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer accused as being beneficial to President Trump and his family since the new building would be near the Trump Hotel in D.C.

Mr. McConnell, though, seemed open to removing all non-coronavirus-related  parts of the proposal from the final draft before any bill passed.

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