New York State lawmakers have reached an agreement to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his pandemic-related emergency powers since facing two controversies and a call for resignation. His top aide, Melissa DeRosa, was caught admitting that their administration underreported nursing home deaths per Cuomo’s executive order – as well as accusations of sexual harassment by at least three young women and accusations of verbal abuse by legislators.
The emergency powers permitted Cuomo to quickly pass executive orders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislature was announced that Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie agreed to legislation that they would immediately revoke his temporary emergency powers, which are currently set to expire on April 30.
The deal would continue some of the existing directives within the first 30 days, such as the statewide mask mandate and measures to manage vaccine rollout, but Gov. Cuomo would need to get permission to extend or modify any actions from lawmakers beyond that point. Extensions would only be allowed if they are “critical to public health.”
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now. We certainly see the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of increased oversight, and review. The public deserves to have checks and balances. Our proposal would create a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected,” Steward-Cousins said.
Speaker Heastie agreed that the emergency powers have served their purpose and it’s time for them to be repealed. “These temporary emergency powers were granted as New York was devastated by a virus we knew nothing about. Now it is time for our government to return to regular order,” Heastie adds.
Assembly Democrat Ron Kim, who was harassed and bullied by Cuomo several times, said it is the “right first step” in removing Cuomo’s ability to issue unilateral mandates, but wants lawmakers to take a step further and impeach him. “Without a doubt, we must do more to hold the governor accountable for his abuse of power and predatory behaviors toward women, staff, and journalists,” Kim said.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has vowed to launch an investigation into the sexual harassment claims against Cuomo, insisting that he should resign if the claims against him are too.
Mayor Bill de Blasio even accused his fellow Democrat of “laughing off” allegations of sexual misconduct and abusing his office. He said “that’s classic Andrew Cuomo” and called on the governor to admit wrongdoing. “It’s even more horrible that something like sexual harassment or taking advantage of a high office, to laugh it off is even more troubling. That’s not a laughing matter,” he said.
Cuomo issued a statement in reaction to the harassment claims, adding that he may have been “insensitive” or “too personal” with some of his comments. He has refused to step down and quick to call on other politicians to resign over allegations of sexual harassment In the past too.
— American Conservatives (@AmConservatives) March 3, 2021