GOP Skinny Bill With Corporate Immunity Fails to Advance; Schumer Blasts Bill as ‘Laden With Poison Pills’

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, NOT IMMUNITY

Welcome to the latest edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a tipsheet highlighting key news and important facts on why Congress should not give corporations legal immunity from coronavirus-related harms to workers, consumers, patients and the public. See our past tipsheets here. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

GOP SKINNY BILL FAILS TO ADVANCE, PARTLY ON ACCOUNT OF POISON PILLS LIKE CORPORATE IMMUNITY: The U.S. Senate Republican skinny bill that contained a corporate immunity proposal failed to advance today, by a vote of 52-47. The Democratic caucus was united in opposing the bill, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) broke ranks with his party. “This bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills, so partisanly designed, it was designed to fail,” U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in floor remarks. “It is laden with poison pills – provisions our colleagues know Democrats would never support – to guarantee the bill’s failure… How about broad immunity provisions? From the day he announced them, he knew it wouldn’t get Democratic support.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES NOTES “ALARMING” IMMUNITY PROPOSAL: Around 40% of coronavirus-related deaths are from nursing home staff and patients. The New York Times editorial board says this didn’t have to be if nursing homes had taken better preventative measures. It also noted that “Since the start of the pandemic, the industry has received billions of dollars in emergency aid — hundreds of thousands of which has gone to companies with terrible safety records. Rather than focus on improving those records, operators of private nursing homes have deployed an army of lobbyists to press for even more funding and favorable policies. Among the most alarming of those policies is total immunity from wrongful death and other malpractice lawsuits — including those pertaining to the coronavirus — from 2019 through at least 2024. Republican lawmakers and industry trade groups have argued that such protections are necessary to prevent struggling homes from collapsing under the weight of litigation. But there’s a much better way to protect nursing homes from wrongful death lawsuits: help them protect patients from dying needlessly.”

NEW YORK HOSPITAL LOBBY HELPED DRAFT MCCONNELL’S CORPORATE IMMUNITY PROPOSAL: The GOP’s inclusion of legal immunity for health care industry executives represents a victory for a powerful New York lobby group. In April, the Greater New York Hospital Association drafted the original provision shielding health care industry officials from COVID-related lawsuits and pushed it through the New York legislature. Under pressure, New York lawmakers subsequently limited the scope of corporate immunity in their state. But the hospital association’s president told state legislators in August that his organization was pushing a national version of the legislation in Washington, where it has spent $1.2 million on lobbying this year. McConnell’s skinny bill shows that this lobbying campaign paid off. The Republican leader copied and pasted the New York law into the so-called “skinny” coronavirus relief legislation that his office released this week.