“Nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, Moody’s Analytics warn,” The Washington Post reports. The measly $1,200 stimulus check they got months ago is a mere memory, and the Senate is still hamstrung by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that letting employers off the hook for sickening or killing their workers is the most important thing to do right now. While record numbers of people are going hungry. While another 10,000 restaurants are likely to permanently close by the end of the month.
It’s been 206 days since the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, and 68 days since the House passed their compromise $2.2 trillion bill, both of which McConnell has refused to consider. With a cliff approaching, with dozens of programs that are keeping millions of people from total ruin expiring in the next few weeks and lawmakers furiously working to try to find a way around McConnell, we have this headline: “Senate stimulus negotiations at risk of collapsing over whether companies can be sued for outbreaks.” That headline alone might have been enough to finally make Senate Republicans push back against McConnell, because now we’re seeing a tiny bit of movement from him.
McConnell has been insisting for months that there will be a “flood” of coronavirus-related lawsuits and that American business as we know it will be utterly destroyed or some damn thing if they don’t receive this liability shield for treating their workers as disposable. The reality is that there have been just 116 lawsuits filed by employees over negligence on the part of employers to protect them, or over exposure to infections at work, or death from infection contracted at work. There have been another 29 cases filed by consumers for personal injury or wrongful death from coronavirus. That’s 145 suits. “That’s like two to four lawsuits per state,” Hugh Baran, an expert on legal recourse for employees at the worker-focused National Employment Law Project, told the Post. “That’s a trickle. It’s not a flood. … This whole immunity bill that’s been proposed by McConnell and Cornyn is really a solution in search of a problem.”
This isn’t just about this pandemic. McConnell has pushed these blanket protections, overriding any state law, to last for a full five years. He wants them to become established and to become permanent. His proposal would “make it nearly impossible to bring a lawsuit and the substantive changes to the law would create an almost insurmountable difficulties in proving their case,” according to Remington Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.
It might be that McConnell has gone too far in this demand for even his own conference, finally. Because, for the first time, there’s a sliver of an opening, according to CNN’s Manu Raju and Politico’s Burgess Everett. McConnell told reporters Tuesday that the issues of liability protections and the other thing he’s been railing against—aid to state and local governments—should be set aside and dealt with next year, allowing the rest of the provisions to pass.
If that state and local aid was repurposed to provide direct payments to people right now—at least $1,200 per person—Democrats should take it. There is next year to deal with state and local aid, and potentially a Democratic Senate to pass it. That aid can always happen. McConnell’s liability shield could be forever, and it would be disastrous for American workers.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.