“We are obviously out of session this week, but when my members come back next week, we will start socializing with them, we will start discussing it with the Democrats and we will start the legislative process,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Corbin. , Kentucky on Monday. “I think you can anticipate that this will come to a head in the next three weeks, starting next week.”
The Republican measure, which McConnell, White House officials, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and key Senate presidents are expected to actively debate, is expected to provide aid to businesses, hospitals and schools in an effort to boost the economy with millions still jobless. . But even before its introduction, it has already sparked a protest from Democrats, who argue that the measure is far smaller in scope than is needed and is expected to include measures that his party will not accept.
On Monday, McConnell reiterated his call to protect the lawsuit for “everyone related to the coronavirus,” be they doctors, nurses, companies, K-12 schools and universities, covering the period from December 2019 to December 2024.
“You must have, you must, no bill will go into the Senate without liability protection for everyone related to the coronavirus,” McConnell told Kentucky journalists. “No one should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits after the pandemic that we have already linked to the coronavirus.”
Democratic leaders have already suggested that such a plan is a point of conflict.
“Let’s listen to what everyone has to say,” Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said last week. “But don’t say, ‘Everyone has to go back to work even if it’s not safe. And, by the way, we’re eliminating all employer responsibility.’ I mean, that’s just – no.”
Instead, Pelosi called for regulation under the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration aimed at protecting workers at risk from exposure to the virus, an idea that was previously rejected by Republicans.
And as the White House demanded the reopening of schools in the fall, Republicans are debating whether new federal aid depends on the steps school districts are taking to reopen. Republican Party sources said Monday that the language was still being resolved, and that details were not final on how that would work. But they are looking at a range of possibilities, including withholding money for schools that remain closed.
“As I said, I think the president would be willing to consider additional funding if all of these schools reopened,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Monday.
Democrats have rejected the idea.
“Do you just have to randomly open schools and take risks or are you not going to get any state aid? I mean, that’s absolutely not,” said Sen. Patty Murray, Washington, the top Democrat in the Senate of Health, Education, Labor and the Pension Committee told CNN last week.
Furthermore, the two sides are very far apart on how much stimulus is really needed for the economy.
“We must extend unemployment insurance,” Pelosi said over the weekend. “It will expire in late July. And then there are direct payments to people so we have $ 6,000 for a family of five. People desperately need it.”
Republicans have been cautious about extending the $ 600 unemployment insurance provision, warning that the extra money could be a disincentive to job seekers.
Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina reiterated his opposition to the extension on Monday.
“I was not in favor last time. I am not in favor this time,” he said of the improved unemployment benefits.
When asked about it last month, House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy said he does not think “it is productive to extend the additional money from the federal government.”
Top Republicans have expressed some openness to more direct payments, albeit with stricter limits on who will receive them.
“Going back to school presents the greatest risk of the coronavirus spreading,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday of the administration’s push to reopen schools.
THis story has been updated with additional developments on Monday.