Durbin To McConnell: Stop Holding Up COVID-19 Relief For Corporation Lawsuit Immunity

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke about the importance of helping unemployed and uninsured Americans, hospitals, and state and local governments amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s delay in passing a bill to give critical assistance to people in need.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin criticized McConnell’s refusal to pass an additional COVID-19 relief bill unless corporations receive federal liability immunity from lawsuits related to the pandemic, noting that Republicans haven’t put forward an actual bill about the immunity they want to give corporations.  The House passed the Heroes Act more than one month ago.

“Senator McConnell is holding back assistance for state and local governments, money for hospitals, and for the unemployed because of this so-called red line when it comes to immunity,” Durbin said. “I would encourage Republicans to finally produce and present to us the standard they want to make part of the law of the land. Let's see what's in it.”

Durbin noted that, according to a COVID-19 lawsuit tracker, out of the two million COVID-19 infections so far in the United States, there have only been five medical malpractice lawsuits. In order to protect American workers and consumers, he pushed Senate Republicans to support the issuance of a clear, science-based, enforceable COVID-19 workplace safety standard by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), instead of a blanket immunity proposal that protects corporations over workers.

“But if you're saying we want immunity for these businesses, we want to let them off the hook no matter what they do, even if they do nothing, I'm sorry, that’s worth a fight. We’ve got to make sure that people across America have a reasonable expectation that when they enter a business or go to work they’re going to be in a safe environment.  That the people who employ them and the ones that want to do business with them have lived up to that responsibility,” Durbin said.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.