WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and U.S. Representatives Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY) today announced a bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 emergency relief framework to help American students, families, businesses, workers, and health care providers. The framework is the result of weeks of member discussions in which Senator Romney fought for liability protections and targeted relief to those most in need.
The $908 billion proposal includes approximately $560 billion in repurposed funds from the CARES Act, with about $348 billion in new spending – representing a significant departure from prior demands from Democrats for a nearly $2 trillion bill. The framework also includes a liability provision pushed by Senator Romney which would temporarily suspend COVID-19 liability lawsuits in order to allow states time to enact their own liability protections, as Utah has done. A breakdown of the COVID-19 emergency relief framework can be found here.
Senator Romney’s remarks at the press conference can be found below, and video of his remarks is available here.
“COVID-19 has created a crisis, and in a crisis, people expect Congress to act. This group has come together to propose action that could respond to this crisis. We have people unemployed, we have businesses shutting down, we have states and localities getting ready for layoffs of large numbers of people. It is simply unacceptable for us not to respond to help in this circumstance. Now, I happen to be a deficit hawk. I don’t like borrowing money, I don’t like spending money we don’t have, but the time to borrow money—maybe the only time to borrow money—is when there is a crisis, and this is a crisis. We want to help people at this particular time, and we have come together, and we have been very careful. This is not a $1.8 trillion stimulus bill. This is a relief measure half that amount—$908 billion. I would note that of that fund, $560 billion is money repurposed from the first CARES Act, so the amount of new money is actually $348 billion.
“I’d also make this note, and that is liability protection is critical. We did negotiate a liability provision that provides a temporary suspension of any liability-related lawsuits at the state or federal level associated with COVID-19, giving states enough time to put in place their own protections. Let me note that any state that doesn’t put in place protections hasn’t been thinking this through very carefully because if I were a CEO, I would never think about putting a new business in a state that didn’t have liability protection for COVID-19. Some states already have. My state of Utah has, so we are giving states the time to put in place their own provisions in the way they think best to protect their businesses, their schools, their hospitals, their universities, and to make sure the people themselves are also protected. I am very pleased to be part of this effort. It has been a long and arduous process, but one which I believe has great merit.”