As I noted last week, one important way to ensure that the economy actually reopens once state governors start giving the all-clear is to provide statutory protections against lawsuits for reopening. Yesterday on Neil Cavuto’s show on Fox, Mitch McConnell came out foursquare behind such protections:
“My red line going forward on this bill is we need to provide protection, litigation protection, for those who have been on the front lines. . . . We can’t pass another bill unless we have liability protection,” McConnell said during an interview on Fox News, calling the additional legal protections a “condition” for the bill . . . “You have to carefully craft the liability protection to deal with the money that would be supplied to state and local governments conditioned upon them enacting at the state level the kind of legislation that would provide liability protection for those that are seeking to go forward and get the economy back to work,” McConnell said . . . “Let me make it perfectly clear, the Senate is not interested in passing a bill that does not have liability protection,” he said. “The way you make a law is it has to pass the House and the Senate. What I’m saying is we have a red line on liability. It won’t pass the Senate without it,” he added.
There are fair debates about the proper mechanism; a bill providing federal preemption would present questions about the extent of Congress’ power over intrastate commerce, and requiring states to pass laws to get federal funding could run afoul of constitutional constraints on federal commandeering of state legislative processes. But the underlying policy goal is sound; the question is how to get there.