New York Sens. Andrew Gounardes (D) and James Skoufis (D) have joined fellow Democratic leaders of the state’s Senate in moving to strip Governor Andrew Cuomo of his emergency powers granted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gounardes and Skoufis were among 14 Senators who issued a joint statement on February 12 which said “it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the governor are no longer appropriate.”
Gounardes tweeted on Thursday that “The legislature is a co-equal branch of state government and it’s time for us to reassert checks and balances over the governor’s broad emergency powers.”
Tensions between Cuomo and state lawmakers have increased since he admitted on Monday that his administration withheld data on virus-related deaths in New York nursing homes.
During a press conference, the third-term governor said that “lessons were learned” and that things “should have been done differently.”
The New York Times reported on Friday that a vote on Cuomo’s powers could come as early as next week while the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York have opened an inquiry into the actions of the governor’s administration.
More than 15,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities. But in January, the state had reported only 8,500 deaths.
Cuomo has defended his administration’s virus response, stating that it accurately reported the number of nursing home and hospital deaths. But critics say his team withheld the number of nursing home residents who died in hospitals for months by reporting them strictly as hospital deaths.
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