New York Democrats pledged to strip Gov. Cuomo of his emergency powers. But when time came to actually strip him of powers, they compromised. Last year the state legislature granted the governor pandemic powers that essentially let him create or suspend any law he wants as it related to COVID-19.
But Gov. Cuomo is no longer a COVID hero. He's got two scandals to his name - one regarding his administration's decision to withhold the number of COVID-related nursing home deaths, and the other being a string of sexual harassment allegations. The Democrats had planned to reverse his emergency powers in light of the controversies.
Instead, they have adopted a watered-down bill. In place of clean and complete repeal, the new version removes the current expiration date of the governor's emergency powers, April 30, 2021, and still allows the governor to extend or modify the nearly 100 Executive Orders he has implemented since the start of the pandemic, as long as Democrats are allowed to review and comment.
Assembly Republican leader Will Barclay and Senate Republican leader Rob Ortt blasted their Democratic colleagues.
“Now that we've seen the details of what Democrats proposed, we can more fully appreciated it for the failure it is," Leader Barclay said in a statement. "Make no mistake: This is not what ‘repeal’ looks like. This is not what ending emergency powers looks like. But it IS what a three-way agreement looks like. A year ago today, the governor signed the bill that expanded his authorities. In the past 12 months, we've seen lockdowns, business closures, jobs lost, schools and chaos, a nursing home cover-up, and now criminal investigations and sexual harassment allegations. Somehow, Democrats still can't seem to bring themselves to govern independently of Andrew Cuomo."
"The bill that's been proposed is barely a fraction of what's necessary," they add.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) asked the Democrats to search for their backbone.
Wow! Talk about selling New Yorkers a bill of goods! Albany Democrats told us they’d strip the Governor’s powers, then we learn this... https://t.co/H4eLPVXArY— Nicole Malliotakis (@NMalliotakis) March 3, 2021
Cuomo is accused of sexual harassment by three women, two of whom are former state employees. In his first public comments about the scandal on Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo said he was "sorry" if he hurt or offended anyone because he meant no harm, adding that grabbing people by the face and kissing them is his "customary way of greeting."
Investigations have opened into both the allegations and the nursing home scandal. Lawmakers, including some Democrats, have called on Gov. Cuomo to resign.