New York State lawmakers on Monday sought to move forward with an effort to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of emergency powers awarded to him during the coronavirus pandemic amid controversy over how his administration handled patient care at New York-area nursing homes.
Republicans in the state legislature held a press conference as they prepared to introduce legislation to immediately take those executive powers away from Cuomo, with hopes it could be formally approved by Monday night.
“This isn’t following the science. This is arbitrarily making decisions that might be best for the governor, but I’m not sure they’re best for the people in New York State,” New York State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said. “This is the time to take away those executive powers from the governor.”
Cuomo’s expanded powers have allowed him to issue widespread executive orders intended to protect the public health throughout the pandemic.
A spokesperson for Cuomo did not return Fox News’ request for comment.
New York State Sen. Pam Helming noted that Republicans have brought a similar bill to the legislature 14 times this year alone – to no avail in the Democratic-controlled legislature.
A number of Democratic lawmakers also submitted a resolution to formally censure Cuomo for “conduct unbecoming of his office,” including an alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths and threatening behavior towards lawmakers. Censure essentially serves as a public rebuke of Cuomo’s actions, though it does not carry any actual punishments.
As previously reported by Fox News, Democratic New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim recalled a phone conversation with Cuomo where the governor reportedly spent ten minutes threatening his career.
Cuomo has said he has had a “long and hostile” relationship with Kim, and suggested Kim’s claims were born out of this contentious history.
The controversy is born out of the number of reported coronavirus-related deaths at New York nursing homes. A report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James at the end of last month revealed total nursing home deaths in the state were higher than previously expected – undercounted by as much as 55%. Those figures were attributed to a policy whereby the state counted deaths that occurred on nursing home grounds and not those who later died in a hospital.
The Department of Health revealed shortly after James’ report was released that an additional 3,829 residents died after being transferred to hospitals, which is about 40% more deaths than had previously been counted. At least 12,743 long-term care residents died of the virus as of Jan. 19.
New data released this month upped those figures to at least 14,100.
An aide for the governor said the administration withheld data because it feared it would be used against them.
A family who lost their mother after she contracted COVID-19 at New York nursing home told Fox News’ Sandra Smith on Monday that if Cuomo made a mistake, they would like to see him “own up to it.”
“That’s we want justice for our mother … and we need to make sure that this never happens again to all the people that are in the nursing homes now and in the future,” Cindy Lizzi said.
Fox News’ Tara Prindville contributed to this report.
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