WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he was “open” to considering additional funding for state and local governments in the next Corona Virus Aid bill, as Democrats have more than 500 billion US dollars to cover police, fire and police costs are aimed at other front workers.
McConnell insisted, however, that the new package must include federal liability protection against an “avalanche” of lawsuits against companies that reopened during the pandemic.
“There is no question that all governors, regardless of their party, want more money. I am open to discussing it,” McConnell said on Fox News Radio.
As Congress moves on to the next round of aid, Democrats are setting their own priorities, including a new effort on Wednesday to federalize the country’s medical supply chain.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said new rules are needed to prevent preferential treatment. Some argue that the Trump administration distributed key equipment during the health crisis. The proposal would be based on the Defense Production Law to ensure adequate supplies.
President Donald Trump’s “failed leadership” during the crisis “has given our frontline healthcare workers a scavenger hunt for their lives and forced governors to bid against each other for much-needed resources,” Schumer said in a statement.
McConnell said on Wednesday when the new package took shape that he “wanted to prevent the second pandemic – that will be lawsuits against doctors, nurses, hospitals and courageous business people who open up.”
Heads of state and government of the House of Representatives and the Senate reach more than the nearly $ 3 trillion that has already been made available to fight the pandemic, despite facing the stark, startling reality that Congress may not be fully restored for a year can be included.
McConnell convenes the Senate again next week, but House House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi dropped plans to return her chamber following a legislative uprising and a warning from the Capitol doctor that the health risks of convening over 400 representatives are too big.
“We will take the right precautions,” said McConnell. “We won’t sit on the sidelines.”
Republican Senate officials plan to hold their regular lunch on Tuesday in what may be one of the largest gatherings in the region.
McConnell’s office would not say whether he would consult with the Capitol doctor about his plans to restart the Senate.
It’s not just the elected officials who are at risk. The U.S. Capitol is a step back from crowded lecture halls, crowded corridors and thousands of congressional employees crunching in office cubicles and cafeteria lunch lines – all undesirable in the new era of social distancing. It also relies on an army of cooks, stewards, electricians and police officers to keep the iconic dome building and the sprawling labyrinth of offices going.
The non-commissioned officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate ceased public tours until mid-May.
Shutting down normal operations for weeks, months, or even longer may seem more unthinkable to some than the measures taken during the fatal Spanish flu of 1918 or the September 11 attack. There is really no direct comparison in US history.
Trump mocked the White House that members of the house who stay at home “enjoy their vacation.”
Trump mocked Pelosi’s recent appearance on a comedy show that showed her ice cream-filled freezer at home.
“You see Nancy Pelosi eating ice cream on TV late into the night,” Trump said. “They have a good time. I think they should be back. I think they should all come back and we should work on it together.”
Pelosi later joked on MSNBC that a freezer full of ice cream was “better than Lysol in the lungs”. Yours was an attack on Trump’s proposal – which raised the alarm in health care professionals – that disinfectants could help eliminate the virus.
While frustrated lawmakers yearn for what is being lost as an equal branch of government, many are also older and in risk categories that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. Some take care of children and families. Most have to commute from their states, while airlines operate fewer flights.
The Capitol doctor has privately warned key lawmakers that it will take at least a year for Congress to work as usual.
As lawmakers envision the new standard in Congress, one of the two priorities for both parties is to reopen their committees to oversee the monitoring of coronavirus help and to draft laws, including the next virus aid package.