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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murphy Open To Discussions With McConnell On Relief Package

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
Steve Helber
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2017.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut says he’s open to negotiating with Republican leadership in Washington in order to get what he calls an essential rescue package to state and local governments. But Connecticut’s other senator, Richard Blumenthal, appears less open to compromise.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says states need $500 billion or else, at least in the case of New York, he’ll have to cut school and hospital funding by 20%. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that won’t happen unless there’s a provision that protects businesses from what he terms “frivolous lawsuits.”

Murphy said he’s interested to hear his proposal.

“Liability protections for businesses, I’m certainly willing to have that conversation. I’m not exactly sure what he’s talking about and what the parameters are, but I certainly think that’s a worthy topic to be part of negotiations.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, however, is less moderate.

“It’s a political ploy and not a realistic way to put people back to work.”

Blumenthal called the Republican leader’s fear of a flood of lawsuit a boogeyman. He says if businesses had clear guidance from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and they followed it, then there should be no fear of lawsuits. 

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Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.