Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats will oppose liability protections for employers of “essential workers” in any future coronavirus package in a Sunday interview on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) previously described the inclusion of liability protections for businesses and doctors as mandatory for any agreement on a coronavirus relief bill. “If there’s any red line, it’s on litigation,” he said. He added, “If there is another bill that passes in the Senate, it will include the liability protections.”
Pelosi’s described the Democrat party’s opposition to liability protections for “essential” businesses as motivated by concern for workers’ health and safety. Allowing workers to sue employers for allegations of negligence related to coronavirus is about “responsibility,” she said.
Partial transcript below.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of the companies and even universities out there have said that they do need some kind of liability protections. Is — are you open to a deal that includes that?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, there are some suggestions that relate to academics to schools and the rest. We have an initiative in California to that respect, but what we will not support is the following: What they’re saying to essential workers, you have to go to work because you’re essential. We’ve placed no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe and if you get sick, you have no recourse because we’ve given your employer protection. And if you don’t go to work because you’re afraid of being sick and you have that job opportunity, you don’t get unemployment insurance. This is so unfair. Let’s just get to the heart of it. At the point of all of this is, this president — I have a new name for him, Mr. Make Matters Worse. He has made matters worse from the start. Delay, denial. It’s a hoax. It’ll go away magically. It’s a miracle, and all the rest. And we’re in this situation with — you spelled out some of the numbers very clearly early. So it makes matters worse — now then we send our children to school. The best way to send our children school is to fund it, to fund it. The ventilation —
PELOSI: The spacing, the additional teachers and to lower the infection rate in the community in which they exist. That takes money.
“Companies have said they could be vulnerable to a wave of lawsuits if their workers get sick during the pandemic,” Axios reported.
Democrats are the primary beneficiaries of political donations from lawyers, law firms, and associated lobbyists. Of the top five contributors among law firms and related professional associations between 2019 and 2020, Democrats received 79.6 percent of total donations ($8,158,274 from a total of $10,245,008). According to Open Secrets, Democrats have received the vast majority of political donations from the legal profession for decades.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.