Cuomo Steps Up Pressure on Trump, McConnell for Relief

President Donald Trump with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (obscured), and Vice President Mike Pence on March 27 at the signing of an earlier $2.2 trillion dollar coronavirus stimulus bill.
Reuters/ Jonathan Ernst

Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, Governor Andrew Cuomo took a shot at the president on Tuesday while talking about the role of government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During his daily briefing, Cuomo repeated calls for the Senate and Trump to approve the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion economic relief package that the Democratic-led House passed last week, which includes billions of dollars in aid for state governments.

The Democrat took umbrage with Republicans, including Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for opposing the legislation even after supporting previous bills to aid corporations and businesses.

Cuomo argued that the public view of government is changing during the pandemic, as Americans realize the important role the federal, state, and local governments play in addressing such a profound crisis. Effectiveness in government, he said, rests upon the competence of those involved — which led to an apparent allusion to President Trump’s response to the crisis.

“Today, government is going to be held to a different standard, and it has to be fundamentally different,” Cuomo said. “It has to be smarter than it was. You have to know what you’re doing, not just look or sound like what you know what you’re doing. You’re not going to tweet your way through this. You have to be smart and competent at what you do.”

Cuomo did mention McConnell by name in taking the Kentucky senator to task for his “ugly and repugnant” efforts to smear the HEROES Act as a “blue state bailout,” and stop its passage.

As he did in previous rebukes of the Senate Majority Leader, the governor noted that New York contributes far more tax dollars to the federal government than it receives in aid — while the opposite is true for Kentucky.

“Every year, without saying a word, we give the federal government about $30 billion more through our fed taxes. Senator McConnell’s state takes $30 billion more every year than they pay in,” Cuomo said. “That’s the bailout. I haven’t heard him saying for the past 30 years, ‘We should only take out what we put in. We don’t want any handouts from New York. We don’t want any largesse from our northern neighbors in New York.’ He was just fine taking that bailout year after year after year.”

That being said, Cuomo insisted that Washington lawmakers stop playing politics in the middle of a pandemic affecting every state and every American, regardless of party affiliation. The governor argued that New York depends on more than $60 billion in aid within the HEROES Act to avoid massive budget cuts that will impact every hospital, school, and local government in the Empire State.

“It’s about priorities, it’s about values,” he said. “Show the same consideration for the workers that you’ve showed for the corporations. That’s all I’m asking. … This is not a partisan issue. It’s not Democrats or Republicans.”

Cuomo went on to suggest that a failure to aid New York, California and other “blue states” would result in devastating these economies — which would have a negative ripple effect felt across the entire country.

Cuomo also used the brief to insist that if a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, the federal government should establish rules to ensure that the vaccine is available to everyone.

On May 18, total hospitalizations and intubations continued to decline, with new COVID-19 hospitalizations decreasing to 335. Cuomo stated that 105 New Yorkers lost their lives as a result of coronavirus, a number that he says is still too high despite the progress the state has made.

“We are basically back to where we started before this tragedy descended upon us,” said Cuomo.

During the briefing, Cuomo spoke about recent news that one of the vaccine development efforts is showing promise and that the federal government is working with that initiative to accelerate its potential production. However, he noted that the federal government and the FDA should release the rights to any vaccine that is developed for widespread distribution.

“Whatever company finds [the vaccine], the vaccine must then be made available to all people,” said Cuomo. “And it can’t be a situation where only the rich, only the privileged can get the vaccine, because one company owns the rights and they can’t produce enough for everyone.”

Cuomo continued by saying that as the federal government is “bending over backwards” to get the vaccine developed, they should set up guidelines now that any company that develops a vaccine has to make the patent or formula available the next day so more companies can help supply vaccines globally.

“This is a public health matter, this is a national security threat,” said Cuomo. “This should not be about one corporation’s privacy.”