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House Republican introduces bill to give meatpacking plants liability shield

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) introduced legislation on Friday that would provide liability protections for meat processing facilities mandated by President Trump to remain open.

The Protecting Protein Production and Consumers Access Act would protect companies from lawsuits if they are not caused by criminal misconduct, gross negligence by the facility, reckless misconduct or conscious indifference to worker safety guidelines. 

Trump signed an executive order last month, citing powers afforded to him under the Defense Production Act, that compelled meatpacking facilities to remain open during the pandemic in an effort to head off disruptions to the food supply chain.

Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants have forced several facilities to close, leading to meat shortages.

“My bill … helps them achieve both by still requiring plants to follow safety provisions and guidelines from local, state, and federal-level health and labor agencies, but also ensuring good faith efforts to protect workers’ paychecks and feed America’s families are not punished,” Hartzler said in a press release announcing the bill.

She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that he and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) are working on legislation to expand liability protections for businesses to support companies against coronavirus-related lawsuits. The business community has pressured the White House and Congress to include these protections in another round of coronavirus relief aid.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week predicted that meat processing plants will fully reopen in the next seven to 10 days, and on Friday Perdue said he does not expect a food shortage to ensue as a result of outbreaks in processing facilities.

Tags Donald Trump John Cornyn Mitch McConnell Sonny Perdue Vicky Hartzler

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