Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer have slammed the new GOP coronavirus bill, saying that it is "headed nowhere." According to reports, the as-yet-unveiled bill will not include a provision for the second round of stimulus checks, which many have expressed disapproval over. In a joint statement shared by The Hill, Pelosi and Schumer said, "Senate Republicans appear dead-set on another bill which doesn't come close to addressing the problems and is headed nowhere."
The statement went on to read, "If anyone doubts McConnell's true intent is anything but political, just look at the bill. This proposal is laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support." While no officials details of the bill have been shared, it is expected to include some type of new federal unemployment benefit, more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, additional funding for coronavirus testing and schools, and liability protections from COVID-related lawsuits. The liability protection is something that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has been fighting hard for, as he argues that coronavirus-related lawsuits could damage the U.S. economy (the Safe to Work Act).
It’s been 116 days since the House passed the Heroes Act and the Senate GOP are finally waking up to the damage their decision to “take a pause” has caused in communities nationwide. Republicans must stop blocking efforts to pass the policies included in the #HeroesAct into law. pic.twitter.com/5e4N8bPtM2— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) September 8, 2020
Even though McConnell is worried about what he sees as nuisance lawsuits wreaking havoc on the American financial system, legal experts have stated that this situation is much less severe. "I think there's a phony issue out there," plaintiff's attorney Richard Bell previously told Yahoo. "How are you going to prove it? Even if I prove gross negligence, how am I going to prove causation here?" Bell argues that even without the Safe to Work Act, most entities will not have to deal with significant lawsuits as COVID-19 exposure is nearly impossible to prove beyond any doubt. Essentially, most businesses and schools would be able to argue that there is no concrete evidence they were responsible for the exposure.
Benjamin Edwards, an associate professor of law at UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, added that he believes coronavirus lawsuit fears are "overblown." Edwards also said that the Safe to Work Act appears to be a "grab bag" of amendments that are simply there to block lawsuits. He referred to the act as being "more theater than substance," and added, "What they're really trying to do is everything they can to deter these lawsuits and make them largely unwinnable."