New York state lawmakers moved Friday to rescind the emergency powers they granted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to handle the coronavirus pandemic as outrage over his sexual harassment and nursing home cover-up scandals continues to mount.
The New York state Senate backed the new restrictions on Cuomo’s executive authority by a 43-20 vote on Friday afternoon. The state Assembly is scheduled to take up the measure later today and is widely expected to follow suit.
Both chambers are dominated by Democrats. The measure would then be signed by Cuomo.
“The public deserves to have checks and balances,” Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester) said. “This legislation creates a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected.”
The measure would ban Cuomo from creating any new directives without the Legislature’s approval and would bar the extension of any existing directives unless they are deemed “critical” to public health.
The vote fell along party lines with the Democrats in the Senate backing the legislation.
The chamber’s Republicans — long critical of Cuomo and his management of the coronavirus — voted against the measure, complaining the new restrictions did not go far enough.
The Friday votes by lawmakers were scheduled to take place just hours after the Governor’s Mansion was rocked yet again by new disclosures in the harassment and nursing home scandals that have beset Cuomo and his administration.
CBS News broadcast a wrenching interview with one of the three women accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment Thursday night, in which former staffer Charlotte Bennett accused the governor of attempting to groom her for sex.
Later that night, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both published new reporting that charged that top figures in his administration manipulated a July report from the state Health Department to downplay the number of coronavirus deaths linked to nursing homes.
Democratic discussions of curtailing Cuomo’s powers began in earnest in recent weeks as the eruption of scandal in Albany compounded growing frustration with the state’s vaccine rollout plan and complaints of state micromanagement from local officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.