Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) puts on a mask after speaking to the media after the Republican's weekly senate luncheon in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 2020. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

'Time Is Running Out for Millions': Progressives Rally for People's Bailout as McConnell Pushes Corporate Immunity

"This is the moment to save lives and to boldly chart a path towards a more equitable future through a just recovery from Covid."

Jake Johnson

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's unrelenting effort to give corporations immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits threatens to undermine ongoing relief talks, a coalition of lawmakers and progressive advocacy groups is holding a virtual rally Tuesday evening to demand a "people's bailout" that prioritizes the needs of the millions of Americans on the verge of destitution.

"Time is running out for millions of families facing hunger, eviction, and health crises."
—Sondra Youdelman, People's Action

"Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans refuse to support a real relief package, demanding instead that the government protect companies who force people to work in unsafe conditions during the pandemic," Sondra Youdelman campaign director for People's Action, said in an email Tuesday. "That's unacceptable, and we need the Senate to act now."

Slated to begin at 7:00 pm ET, the event will feature leaders from People's Action, Center for Popular Democracy, Indivisible, the Movement for Black Lives, and other advocacy groups as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"Time is running out for millions of families facing hunger, eviction, and health crises," said Youdelman. "Join us tonight as we demand real relief for people, not giveaways to corporations."

The rally will take place as congressional negotiators scramble to strike a coronavirus stimulus deal before the end of the year, when more than two dozen federal relief programs are set to expire amid a worsening pandemic and economic crisis.

A major sticking point in the ongoing bipartisan talks continues to be the Republican push for a liability shield to protect corporations from an "epidemic" of lawsuits from workers and customers who contract the coronavirus. According to analysts, the supposed "epidemic" of litigation is not happening.

"McConnell is holding hostage the Covid relief that Americans desperately need, demanding as ransom a grant of immunity to corporations for coronavirus-related wrongdoing."
—Robert Weissman, Public Citizen

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that while McConnell (R-Ky.) is advocating a five-year liability shield for corporations, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah)—part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers behind a $908 billion relief plan—has "proposed that immunity from federal lawsuits only last for 2020." McConnell has not said whether he would be willing to support Romney's proposal.

"McConnell is holding hostage the Covid relief that Americans desperately need, demanding as ransom a grant of immunity to corporations for coronavirus-related wrongdoing," Robert Weissman, president of consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said in statement Tuesday. "Americans need Covid relief, but we shouldn't have to pay for it by sacrificing our health and worsening the pandemic."

Sanders, who is expected to speak at the People's Bailout rally Tuesday, has vowed to vote against the $908 billion bipartisan proposal if it reaches the floor without significant improvements, specifically the removal of corporate immunity provisions and inclusion of another round of direct stimulus payments to U.S. households.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter on Tuesday, Sanders and five Senate Democrats warned that the corporate liability shield would encourage companies to "to avoid implementing the common sense safety standards needed to protect workers and consumers—and make a bad situation worse."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Trump Turns to SCOTUS Over Mar-a-Lago Docs, But 'It Won't Stop DOJ'

"This is a very specific and narrow request by Trump the merits of which turn on a technical jurisdictional question, but which runs into fatal procedural obstacles long before that," said one analyst. "It's not laughable, but only because it's small."

Jessica Corbett ·


Despite Calls for Diplomacy to End War, US Confirms More Weapons Headed to Ukraine

"Are there still negotiation possibilities?" asked Noam Chomsky. "There's only one way to find out. That's to try. If you refuse to try, of course, there's no option, no possibilities."

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn SCOTUS May Gut 'Foundational' Digital Rights Law

"Weakening Section 230 would be catastrophic—disproportionately silencing and endangering marginalized communities," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


Report Reveals How Utilities' Climate Pledges Amount to 'Textbook Greenwashing'

Despite the passage of nearly $370 billion in renewable energy funding, the nation's utilities are squandering "a massive opportunity for clean electricity and electrification."

Julia Conley ·


$158,000 Cost for ALS Treatment Called 'A Poster Child' for Unjust Drug Pricing

"The price of the newly approved drug combination Relyvrio to treat ALS," said one critic, "is yet another clear and powerful example of unjustified high prices set by drug companies that ultimately exploit patients."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo