Apr 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell: Local coronavirus relief could be tied to limiting employer liabilities

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Politico on Monday it is "highly likely" that the next coronavirus response bill will provide aid to local governments, but Congress may tie the funds to limiting employer liabilities amid workers' returns.

Why it matters: Policymakers have expressed concerns about liabilities as businesses reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Clark told Axios last week that employers could face massive liability concerns, calling it "a second economic risk."

  • McConnell told Politico that a proposal to limit such liabilities would be required as part of any deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • "The next pandemic coming will be the lawsuit pandemic in the wake of this one. So we need to prevent that now when we have the opportunity to do it," he said.

Between the lines: It's the latest complexity in McConnell's stance on coronavirus aid for local governments.

  • He pushed back against Democrats' efforts to include money for local governments in the most recent $484 billion round of aid, and he suggested last week that states should declare bankruptcy instead of feeding off federal aid.
  • "I’m open to additional assistance. It’s not just going to be a check, though, you get my point?" McConnell told Politico.
  • "We’re not writing a check to send down to states to allow them to, in effect, finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus," he added.

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Even with early curfews in New York City and Washington, D.C., protesters are still out en masse. Some protesters in D.C. said they were galvanized by President Trump's photo op in front of St. John's Church on Monday and threat to deploy U.S. troops in the rest of country if violence isn't quelled, NBC News reports.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump backs off push to federalize forces against riots

Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

A day after threatening to federalize forces to snuff out riots across the country, the president appears to be backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Aides say he hasn’t ruled out its use at some point, but that he's “pleased” with the way protests were handled last night (apart from in New York City, as he indicated on Twitter today) — and that for now he's satisfied with leaving the crackdown to states through local law enforcement and the National Guard.

What we expect from our bosses

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Workers — especially millennials and Gen Zers — are paying close attention to the words and actions of their employers during national crises, such as the protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

Why it matters: American companies have an enormous amount of wealth and influence that they can put toward effecting change, and CEOs have the potential to fill the leadership vacuum left by government inaction. More and more rank-and-file employees expect their bosses to do something with that money and power.