NY Senate Votes to Strip Gov. Cuomo of his Emergency Powers

NY Senate Votes to Strip Gov. Cuomo of his Emergency Powers

By Yehudit Garmaise

    After debating for hours whether and to what extent the New York state Senate should restrict Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive powers, Senators voted 43 to 30 When you allow one man to have enormous unilateral power over every detail in the state this afternoon to do so. Later today, the state Assembly, which is expect to vote similarly, will debate later today.

   Just one year ago when COVID-19 was at its peak, New York senators granted the governor emergency powers to manage the pandemic easily.

    However, a nursing home scandal, multiple harassment allegations, and 96 executive orders later, New York senators have decided they gave the governor too much power.

   Although the governor’s nursing home scandal was already threatening his capacity for leadership, last night the New York Post reported that top advisers to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, such as Howard Zucker, MD, New York's Department of Health commissioner, “successfully pushed state health officials to omit from a public report the number of nursing home residents who died in hospitals from COVID-19.”

   While Democrats spoke about limiting the governor’s emergency powers, speaking for many Republicans, State Sen. Andrew J. Lanza (R), criticized the current bill not having an end date and for not restricting the governor’s powers enough. 

   “One-man rule is the anti-thesis of everything we hold dear as Americans when you allow one man to have enormous unilateral power over every detail in the state,” Sen Lanza said. 

   While some senators questioned whether the governor should continue to have enormous control over the state, others pointed out that the current health crisis demanded that the governor continue to decide what is open and when.

   “Why would this body allow the governor, who…lied, continue to enjoy extraordinary, unilateral emergency powers?” one senator asked.

   Another senator replied, “As of now, the governor is still the governor, and the executive of this state, and he needs to have some ability to manage our response in a state of emergency.”

  “I am not calling for the removal of these powers as a punishment for Gov. Cuomo,” as some others are, Sen. Lanza said. “This is not about Andrew Cuomo the person. This is about democracy.” 

    Sen. Lanza said that the Senate and the Assembly need to be more involved in making the decisions of the pandemic restrictions that affect their constituents.

  “One-party rule is one thing,” Sen. Lanza, referring to the Democratic-controlled Senate. “One-man is another. That is what we have suffered under for a year now.”

(Photo Don Pollard// Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

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