March 23, 2020
From U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand:
— Democratic Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with a bipartisan group of senators representing states along the United States-Canada border, called on President Trump to consider the effect of closing the U.S.-Canada border on border communities. The letter highlights concerns regarding the border closure’s effect on the supply chains of companies that produce or provide essential goods and services. The northern border closure began March 21st. The letter also urged the president to consider the impact on families living in border communities.
“With more cases of Coronavirus being diagnosed in New York’s border communities each day it’s imperative that the proper supplies, staff, and assistance that New Yorkers desperately need don’t get interrupted,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer. “Now, more than ever, having access to medical attention and services can mean life or death, and with a growing number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Upstate New York the need for an unrestricted flow of Canadian healthcare workers is intensifying, which is why I am urging the federal government to immediately address the confusion and assure all New Yorkers that the potentially lifesaving supply chain does not get interrupted.”
“Travel across the northern border is critical for supplies and personnel that New York businesses, hospitals, and medical equipment providers depend on,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “To fight the spread of coronavirus, we need to be mindful of travel restrictions — making sure they don’t hinder our ability to respond to this growing public health emergency. I urge the Trump administration to consider border communities in its ongoing response to coronavirus.”
The letter urged the president to evaluate the impact of travel restrictions on families and communities along the northern border, some of which share essential services critical to public safety. The senators implored the president to provide guidance as to how closures and quarantines will affect these communities to ensure all necessary exemptions are made in the interest of public health and safety. The letter explains that restrictions on travel across the border are necessary to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but targeted exemptions must be considered and clear directives for those exemptions must be immediately provided so businesses and individuals are able to plan and prepare.
The letter is cosigned by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Susan Collins (D-ME), Jim Risch (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Angus King (I-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
From State Senator George Borrello:
With the COVID-19 crisis dominating the public’s attention as the state approaches its April 1 budget deadline, State Senator George Borrello today called on the governor and legislative leaders to keep policy initiatives out of the state budget, a tactic that is used to force enactment of controversial measures with a minimum of public scrutiny. He made that request in a letter he sent to all three leaders.
“Using the state budget as a cover to enact politically contentious legislation runs counter to the goals of transparency, accountability and free and open debate that state leaders claim to prioritize. Eliminating this backdoor lawmaking practice is more important than ever as our state and nation face the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” said Senator Borrello.
“The attention of rank-and-file legislators, their constituents and the media is rightly focused on this growing threat, the government response and how everyday New Yorkers can protect themselves and their families. Understandably, the state budget is not top-of-mind at this moment. State leaders should not use that distraction as an excuse to slip controversial policy initiatives into the budget. The budget should simply be what it was always intended to be – a spending plan for the next fiscal year, nothing more and nothing less,” Senator Borrello said.
“We only need to look back to last year to see the negative ramifications of embedding policy in the budget. This practice gave us the disastrous bail ‘reform’ law that has resulted in dangerous spikes in crime across the state as well as the creation of a commission to implement public campaign financing, which was later ruled unconstitutional,” said the Senator. “It is a poor way to govern and it needs to end.”
“I urge our state leaders to make this year a turning point by committing to an open and democratic budget process that places the focus on finances and avoids wrapping any legislative proposals into this spending document. Policy initiatives should be allowed to work their way through the regular legislative processes, in the full light of day and with an exchange of ideas and debate. In the midst of this crisis, there is no better time to end a practice that has been criticized by good government groups, legislators in both parties, and citizens. Let’s give New Yorkers the honest, transparent government they deserve by taking politics out of the budget process. Let’s pass a clean budget.”