Governor Andrew Cuomo spent the majority of his daily press briefing Wednesday lambasting Senate republicans for their "disturbing" resistance to sending aid to address the COVID-19 crisis at the state level.
Cuomo sharply criticized Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and Florida Sen. Rick Scott for sowing division during the pandemic and for playing favorites as to who benefits from federal stimulus.
So far Washington D.C.'s chief beneficiaries have been big businesses — like airlines, corporations, hotels, restaurant chains and public companies — while states are left to slash funding to essential programs, like police and fire departments, healthcare and schools with the absence of federal help.
"If there was ever going to be one moment to his the pause button [on partisanship], the moment would be now," Cuomo said. "You have people suffering, you have people dying. You can't stop the politics even in this moment?"
Cuomo also pushed back against McConnell and Scott's suggestion that helping New York make its budget wouldn't be fair to taxpayers in other states, saying New York is America's foremost economic engine, that the state sends $29 billion dollars more to Washington annually than it receives.
On the other hand, Kentucky and Florida take more federal aid annually than they contribute. Kentucky receives $37 billion more than it pays. Florida receives $30 billion more than it pays.
States cannot operate on budget deficits and they cannot legally declare bankruptcy, as McConnell suggested they should.
But the doublespeak begins and ends in Congress, Cuomo added. He says he's seen numerous examples that regular Americans are unified despite the rhetoric of their elected leaders and want to help one other.
He referenced a letter he received last week from a farmer in north Kansas, who sent a spare N95 mask to New York, hoping it would he used to protect an essential worker. He referenced the fact that more than 95,000 nurses and doctors from other parts of the country flocked to New York to help the state bear the brunt of the daunting COVID crisis. He referenced that there is bipartisan support from the National Governors Association for federal aid to states.
"This politicalization of what we're going through in this country is extraordinarily dangerous," the governor added. "We're dealing with probably the most dramatic situation that we've dealt with in modern political history. ... It's going to take us at our best to navigate this to save lives."
New York is moving towards allowing some parts of the state to reopen as of May 15, but in defending his caution Wednesday, Cuomo referenced reports out of Germany suggesting the nation's reopening effort may be stifled by a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases.
Cuomo and other governors in the northeast region have vowed that they would trust data and not allow false starts in efforts to reopen.
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