Members of the New York State Assembly have expressed calls to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his emergency powers following revelations that the New York governor’s administration deliberately hid the true extent of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes throughout the state.
Cuomo’s emergency powers were granted by the Assembly last March with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed him enact zones throughout the state and enforce lockdowns in accordance with guidance provided by the state’s Department of Health.
Earlier this week, a Cuomo top aide admitted that the administration covered up nursing home deaths to avoid scrutiny from the Department of Justice.
Newsweek reports that a number of Democratic state senators have joined with their Republican counterparts to repeal the governor’s powers, following a virtual press conference on Friday.
The powers, which were initially set to expire on April 30, provide Cuomo the ability to “suspend specific provisions of any statute, local law, ordinance, or orders, rules or regulations of any agency” and circumvent normal legislative procedures. They effectively grant the governor unchecked rulership over the state of New York.
“Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government,” the senators’ joint statement read. “While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state –– and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments –– it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.”
“While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible,” they stated.
14 Democratic lawmakers joined with state Republicans to issue the statement, including Alessandra Biaggi, Jabari Brisport, Samra Brouk, Jeremy Cooney, Andrew Gounardes, Robert Jackson, John C. Liu, John Mannion, Rachel May, Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Gustavo Rivera, Julia Salazar, James Sanders, and James Skoufis.
For Cuomo’s powers to be revoked, the legislature requires at least 76 members to sign on, with 32 members in the Senate, the Daily Mail reports.
New York and Congressional Republicans have both called for Cuomo’s removal, with state legislators pushing for a formal investigation into his administration’s potentially criminal actions.