Upstate GOP Lawmakers: These Votes Did Not Take Away The Governor’s Emergency Powers

March 5, 2021

ALBANY, NY – There were two votes today, one in the State Senate and one afterwards in the State Senate. The vote was about the govenror’s emergency Covid-19 powers. From what State Senator Tom O’Mara says, the governor is not losing his emergency covid powers to run the state singlehandedly, the senate vote only requires the governor to tell the four New York Assembly and Senate leaders what he’s going to do on his own anyways. We’re getting numerous statements from upstate GOP lawmakers who are claiming that Cuomo’s emergency powers will not be lessened.

From Assemblyman Phil Palmesano: “Over the past year and once again today, we have witnessed firsthand how this governor has abused his emergency powers while the Democrats in the Legislature have continually rejected our efforts in the Assembly and Senate Republican Conferences to strip these powers and restore checks and balances to state government. To make matters worse, their answer is to advance this bill, supported by the governor, which indefinitely extends his powers, delivering yet another devastating blow to New York families, students, unemployed workers and small businesses who have been absolutely crushed by the governor’s shutdowns, closures and restrictions. It is completely disingenuous and an insult to the residents of this state for Assembly and Senate Democrats to claim their bill revokes the governor’s emergency powers. It does not. Their bill extends his powers and extends them indefinitely. However, the amendment we offered today, which the Democrats rejected once again, if passed, would have truly, immediately and completely revoked the governor’s emergency powers.”

From Assemblyman Joe Giglio: “This watered-down bill is nothing more than an illusion. It is business as usual in Albany. The governor admitted in a press conference earlier this week that he has been a part of the negotiations leading to this legislation. All of the executive orders issued since the emergency powers were granted will remain in place. The emergency powers which began last March also had an end date of April 30, 2021. This legislation removes that date, which essentially extends them with no end date whatsoever. We have no reason to trust this administration or Department of Health, all of whom have lied over the entire course of this pandemic. They should never have been allowed input into this legislative process regarding executive powers. The only change to the process included in this legislation is that the governor must notify selected legislators about changes to existing orders. The governor has failed to report to the Legislature previously in executive action, so there is nothing to assure us that more of the same will not occur in the future. Additionally, over the past year, none of the 100 orders issued have been changed or revoked. Why would we expect that this Legislature would counter the governor’s directives now? Nothing has changed. We should assert ourselves and draft a real roadmap back to normalcy. This fraudulent bill continues more of the same disastrous path that has left much of New York state in ruin, from the personal lives of our citizens to small businesses and industries, as we have personally witnessed throughout my district. My colleagues and I stand ready and anxious to do our work on behalf of the people. We were elected to serve our constituents in a representative democracy as legislators but are being prevented from doing our jobs as a result of the extension of these extreme executive powers. Nothing less than a full repeal of the executive powers will allow us to restore New York state government to the democratic system it was designed to be. Instead, our system remains unbalanced, with too much power in the governor’s hands.”

From State Senator Tom O’Mara: “On a day when it is shown once again that Governor Cuomo and his inner circle have abused their emergency pandemic powers for political gain in a disgusting cover-up of nursing homes deaths, the Senate Democrats still strike a deal with Governor Cuomo that gives him the go-ahead. They acknowledge that the governor has repeatedly lied to them, yet they continue, indeed extend indefinitely with this law, his extraordinary powers. For over a year, Albany’s legislative Democrats have abandoned their legislative responsibility, refused to issue subpoenas, ignored the facts and paid lip service to the need for serious oversight hearings. The Senate Democrats have protected Governor Cuomo and his inner circle every step of the way. They are protecting him again today. The Senate Democrats are complicit with Governor Cuomo in what is being revealed as tragic, unforgivable, politically motivated and, in my view, criminal decisions during this COVID-19 pandemic that cost lives, devastated families, destroyed livelihoods and will keep this state at risk for years to come. This latest Albany Democrat scam keeps it all in place until who knows when.”

From Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes: “Every time New Yorkers look at the news, our hearts sink deeper. The depths of the deception from the governor’s administration continues to grow. Today, the reports showing executive staff rewrote Department of Health data on nursing home deaths was just another piece of evidence to support the immediate removal of his emergency powers. A full repeal of the governor’s extraordinary powers was the only acceptable action for this Legislature to take. Today’s vote, which does nothing to rein-in the governor, will only empower him.”

From Senator George Borrello: “Today, we received confirmation that where the Governor’s deceit, bullying, and alleged abuse are concerned, there is literally no bridge too far for the Legislature’s Democratic leaders. Despite scandal after scandal, calls from legislators on both sides of the aisle for the Governor’s impeachment or resignation, embarrassing national headlines for our state, and, worst of all, his role in contributing to the deaths of elderly nursing home residents, Democratic leadership has put politics ahead of the people they were elected to serve. While they repeatedly rejected our Conference’s efforts to end the emergency powers with a clean repeal of his authority, we still had a light at the end of the tunnel with the April 30 sunset date in the original legislation. By removing that sunset date, that hope has been extinguished. Instead, legislative leaders have enabled this ethically compromised Governor, who has lost the confidence of New Yorkers and the respect of his peers, to continue exerting his will without the checks and balances that our current circumstances demand. A year ago, when I voted against the sweeping, unilateral authority granted to this governor, I stated that any legislature willing to cede this much power to the executive will be reluctant to take it away. Today’s shameful action proves that to be true.”