N.Y. Republicans call on Dems to fully revoke Cuomo COVID powers

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Denis Slattery, New York Daily News
·2 min read
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ALBANY — Republicans are calling on their counterparts across the aisle to hold Gov. Cuomo to fully rescind the governor’s sweeping COVID executive authority.

GOP lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol on Monday to call Democrats to revoke, not just limited Cuomo’s powers as the governor faces growing outcry over the state’s handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.

“It should not have taken a national scandal regarding nursing home fatalities and federal investigation of the governor’s office to reach this point,” said Assembly Minority Leader Barclay (R-Oswego). “Rolling back Gov. Cuomo’s expanded authority is long overdue, but better late than never.”

Lawmakers in both parties are upset the administration stonewalled requests for information on the deaths of elder-care facility residents for more than six months and only released the data after a scathing report from the state attorney general accused officials of undercounting. Federal prosecutors are now probing the matter.

Democrats, who hold majorities in both the State Senate and Assembly, are currently considering several measures, including one backed by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) that would create a committee of legislators with the authority to approve any directives before they take effect.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Lockport) said the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

“I am beyond disappointed in their newest proposal to form a sham commission to pretend to get tough with the governor,” he said. “This will not return balance to Albany.”

The governor’s office has repeatedly pushed back on talk of rescinding his authority, which is set to expire April 30, arguing the Legislature has had the ability to overturn any of his executive actions throughout the past year with a simple majority vote and has not done so.

Yet a growing number of Democrats in both chambers have expressed support for limiting Cuomo’s ability to override state laws and fear the matter will become tied up in budget negotiations in the coming weeks.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said he and his fellow Dems met for six hours Monday morning and while there is a consensus that some action is needed, they’re still “trying to sift through” their options.

Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) drafted a bill that would fully rollback Cuomo’s coronavirus authority and Republicans say anything less will not suffice.

“Unilateral rule is not how our government is supposed to run,” Barclay said. “We have arrived at a point that the trust and credibility of the governor’s office has been severely compromised – possibly beyond the point of repair.”