‘McConnell is irrelevant’: Cuomo turns up heat on Trump over COVID-19 relief bill

Governor Andrew Cuomo at a Nov. 18, 2020 press conference.
Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

With Senate Republicans continuing to drag their feet on agreeing to another round of stimulus payments to American families, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday turned to the one person that might actually move the GOP into action: Donald Trump.

In a letter to the outgoing president, Cuomo said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “is irrelevant,” and that Trump is the one who should get the Senate Republicans to cooperate with House and Senate Democrats on passing the latest COVID-19 relief bill.

That legislation, the governor told the president, should include direct payments to Americans amid the ongoing economic crisis. In the spring, when the economy crashed as the first wave of COVID-19 took hold of the country Congress and Trump agreed to authorize one-time payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. 

But since then, McConnell and Senate Republicans have been largely opposed to providing further payments. The subject was back on the table in recent weeks as Congress deliberated a new stimulus bill as well as a measure to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown. Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated a deal was “within reach.” 

On Friday, a bill allowing for direct payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, introduced in the Senate by Missouri’s Josh Hawley in consultation with Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, was shot down by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who complained about the soaring national deficit.

Since McConnell and Republicans seem to listen only to him, Cuomo intimated to Trump, the president can get them on board with economic stimulus just by tell them to do it.

“You control the Republican Party, as was just demonstrated by the Texas lawsuit against democracy,” Cuomo wrote in his letter to the president. “You will decide and be held accountable for the consequences of this urgently-needed COVID legislation.”

Cuomo told Trump that Americans of all parties “need financial assistance to make it through the end of the year.” He also conceded that Democrats would be able to negotiate with Republicans on a major sticking point in the stimulus talks: corporate liability limitations connected to the pandemic. Cuomo claimed that “there is a reasonable compromised to be reached, and you could negotiate it in two phone calls.”

With New York facing a $15 billion deficit that could result in massive tax hikes and service cuts without help, Cuomo again pressed Trump to demand that Republicans support billions of dollars in economic relief for states to cover their COVID-19 costs. 

“The Republicans don’t want to provide state and local governments relief because the states that need help now are largely Democratic states,” Cuomo wrote to Trump. “This is just dumb – with the COVID numbers exploding, Republican states will also need help. COVID rates will keep rising for weeks, and the Republican states are already suffering. Senator McConnell saying ‘bankrupt the states’ would lead to ‘bankrupting the nation.’ If New York, California, Michigan, Illinois and other Democratic states stumble financially, it will hurt the national economy, and you will be to blame.”

States also need additional funding to conduct mass COVID-19 vaccination, Cuomo added.

But the governor closed his letter by noting that history would judge Trump even more if he fails to support robust economic stimulus now. Cuomo took a shot at the fealty of Trump loyalists in the Republican Party, saying they would abandon him the minute he’s no longer president.

“National economic turmoil caused by failed state economies, an incompetent federal vaccine program, and more American deaths are the realities you are facing,” Cuomo closed. “Indeed, if you are right, and politics is akin to show business, remember that Scrooge was never loved, watching Americans die never earned anyone high ratings, and national recessions are not produced by successful television businessmen, or hosts of The Apprentice. You are about to exit the stage, and the audience always remembers the close.”

You can read the full letter here.

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