State lawmakers in New York reached a deal on Tuesday to successfully remove emergency powers that had been granted to Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) over the coronavirus pandemic last year, as reported by The Hill.
The bipartisan agreement was announced by State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie (D-N.Y.), who said that a bill would be passed later this week revoking Cuomo’s ability to govern almost unilaterally via executive order. The powers had been granted to him by the legislature last year, and were set to expire on their own on April 30th, whereas this bill would remove them immediately.
In her announcement, Stewart-Cousins said “everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now,” adding that lawmakers “want to move toward a system of increased oversight and review” with regards to the state’s pandemic response going forward.
The removal of these powers represents the latest setback for Cuomo, who is currently embroiled in multiple scandals that threaten to derail his governorship. In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report confirming that the Cuomo Administration covered up the true total of COVID-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes following his widely-criticized decision last March to force such facilities to accept COVID-positive patients. A senior aide to Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, admitted that the true number was hidden in order to avoid a possible federal investigation, which directly led to the FBI and U.S. Attorneys announcing an investigation into the incident.
This scandal was compounded by Cuomo’s private reactions to it as he attempted to do damage control, with the governor calling several state lawmakers and trying to intimidate them into releasing statements in support of him. One such lawmaker, State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-N.Y.) went public with his experience, saying that Cuomo called him and threatened to “destroy” his career if he did not publicly support the governor.