New York Democrats simply cannot turn a blind eye to the new revelations that the Cuomo administration intentionally hid the number of COVID-19 fatalities in nursing homes last year. Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa admitted on a call with lawmakers this week that their team "froze" when they thought the Department of Justice would come after them. Initial numbers provided by the state health department suggested that nearly 7,000 individuals had died from COVID in nursing homes. The true number is more than 15,000 deaths.
Lawmakers are now demanding justice, and some of those calls are thankfully coming from those in Cuomo's party. State Sen. John Mannion is calling for the legislature to strip Gov. Cuomo of his emergency pandemic powers. Last March, before Mannion began serving, the legislature voted to grant Cuomo the power to "suspend [specific provisions of] any statute, local law, ordinance, or orders, rules or regulations, of any agency." The governor took advantage of that power and signed more than 70 executive orders.
“The Governor’s lack of transparency and stonewalling regarding his administration’s nursing home actions is unacceptable,” Mannion, D-Geddes, said in a statement on Friday.
“We must immediately re-establish proper legislative oversight through public hearings with witnesses under oath,” Mannion continued. “Basic government information and data long sought by the New York State Senate must be provided.”
Sen. John Mannion, a freshman Democrat, calls for Gov. Cuomo to be stripped of his pandemic power. pic.twitter.com/FMEELDMuYX— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) February 12, 2021
He's joined by more than a dozen other Democrats.
NEW: 14 Democratic senators issue a joint statement calling for the removal of Cuomo’s emergency powers. pic.twitter.com/mYwFjMeuDB— Jon Campbell (@JonCampbellGAN) February 12, 2021
Other New York lawmakers have been calling to scale back Cuomo's powers for some time. New York State Sen. Pam Helming put forward an amendment in January that she said would "restore legislative oversight to our state government."
"This amendment would restore the rightful power of the state legislature, which under our state constitution, cannot delegate its legislative authority to any other entity, including but not excluding, the governor or the Executive Branch," Helming explained.
No Democrats supported the effort at the time.