The New York State Senate and Assembly voted Friday to curtail Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers, limiting his authority that was greatly expanding during the Covid-19 pandemic as he faces multiple controversies and calls to resign.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference on February 24, 2021. (Photo by SETH … [+]
The legislation, which lawmakers first announced Tuesday, will repeal emergency powers amassed during the early days of the pandemic, which allow Cuomo to issue directives that can unilaterally alter or create laws without the legislature or local leadership’s approval.
While the bill affects Cuomo’s ability to impose new directives, he can still extend or change existing ones, but there will be a five-day comment period for lawmakers to provide feedback first.
The legislation will also let the state legislature end a disaster declaration in the state, rather than giving the governor the sole power to do so.
The bill passed the Senate 43-20 in a party line vote, NY1 reports, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans against.
It then passed the state Assembly late Friday in a 107-43 vote, and will now head to Cuomo’s desk for his signature.
Cuomo responded to the legislation at a briefing Wednesday and said he had “worked with the legislature” on the bill, which lawmakers deny: Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie called Cuomo’s comments “misinformation” in a statement and bill sponsor Sen. Mike Gianaris suggested Friday Cuomo “lied” because he “didn’t want to be embarrassed by the fact that the Legislature was repealing his emergency powers and is trying to pretend that he had something to do with it.”
“These temporary emergency powers were always meant to be that—temporary,” Heastie said in a statement Friday night. “By immediately repealing the temporary emergency powers…we can establish better communication and collaboration with our local communities and help preserve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers as we see the light at the end of the tunnel of this devastating and deadly healthcare crisis.”
Republicans have opposed the bill because they believe Cuomo’s powers should be revoked entirely, rather than allowing him to exercise some control but with more legislative feedback. “Make no mistake: This is not what ‘repeal’ looks like. This is not what ending emergency powers looks like,” Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay said in a statement Wednesday. “But it IS what a three-way agreement looks like.”
Cuomo has been under fire in recent weeks for concurrent scandals, coming under fire for both sexual harassment allegations and underreporting Covid-19 nursing home deaths and the number of patients sent from hospitals to nursing homes. The governor has called the nursing home issue a “political football” and acknowledged that while his actions toward women may have “made people feel uncomfortable,” he denies the harassment allegations against him and said he “never touched anyone inappropriately.” The nursing home controversy is reportedly now under federal investigation and New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the sexual misconduct claims. Cuomo is also facing growing calls to resign, which he said Wednesday he will not do.
New York Legislature To Strip Cuomo Of Pandemic Emergency Powers Amid Dual Scandals (Forbes)
There Was No Deal: Legislature Set To Rescind Cuomo’s Expanded Emergency Powers (Gothamist)
Report: Cuomo Staff Altered Health Department’s Covid-19 Report To Hide New York’s Massive Nursing Home Death Toll (Forbes)
Cuomo Accuser Hires Christine Blasey Ford Lawyer Ahead Of Sexual Harassment Investigation (Forbes)
Cuomo Denies Touching Anyone Inappropriately: ‘I’m Not Going To Resign’ (Forbes)
I am a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I previously covered politics and news for Vanity Fair and Mic, and as a theater critic I serve as a