Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-Calif.) told Yahoo Finance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is to blame for stalled stimulus negotiations in Congress, explaining that McConnell was “refusing” to bring a stimulus vote to the floor unless an aid package “wipes away all COVID-related lawsuits filed that allege injury or death due to corporate negligence.”
“He's absolutely just kowtowing to his large corporate donors here,” Porter said.
Stimulus negotiations are ongoing as lawmakers work to settle differences that remain on a $908 billion bipartisan Senate package. One of the sticking points that remain are Republican demands for immunity for corporations against coronavirus-related lawsuits.
McConnell has offered to drop business liability demands in exchange for Democrats backing away from calls for billions in aid for local municipalities.
“This is simply about doing the bidding, checking off an item that has long been on the wish list of the nation's largest corporations,” Porter explained, adding that companies are already “protected from liability so long as they act reasonably and follow reasonable safety precautions with regards to their customers, patients, and workers.”
According to an analysis of donations to McConnell’s Senate re-election bid, some of his biggest donors include UPS, Geo Group, and American Airlines. All three companies have faced COVID-19 related lawsuits.
“This is not what the American people are asking for,” Porter said, adding that she talks to constituents daily. “They need help keeping food on the table. They need help keeping a roof over their head. Small businesses, especially the smallest businesses need assistance.”
According to the latest jobless claims report, more than 800,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits, with more than 5.7 million people still filing for unemployment more than eight months after the pandemic hit the United States.
Democrats have made many concessions to Republicans in hopes of inking a new stimulus deal, according to Porter. The bipartisan package from the Senate is much smaller than the more than $2 trillion deal that Democrats had passed in the House.
“Republicans, in some cases, have been willing to go up or to consider certain kinds of help,” Porter said, signaling the willingness for bipartisanship. “The problem here — the holdup here is a lack of leadership from the president and an unwillingness of Senator Mitch McConnell to let go of this imaginary problem of COVID-19 liability.”
Kristin Myers is a reporter and anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.