Schumer lays ultimatum for Trump, McConnell: We’ll oppose any new aid bill without transit, state relief

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer holds a news conference across the street from the United Nations on March 2, 2014.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. (File photo)

If there’s no support for the MTA and state and local governments included in new stimulus legislation proposed on Capitol Hill, Senator Charles Schumer vowed Monday that New York’s Congressional delegation will oppose it. 

Schumer, on Monday, said he and members of the House of Representatives would dig their heels into the ground if Republicans left out billions of dollars in aid for not just New Yorkers, but many other states facing massive deficits due to COVID-19 after the HEROES Act was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“While [Congress members] worked darn hard to pass the Heroes Act—more than three months ago—the Senate, under Leader McConnell and the White House under President Trump, has used that time to sit on their hands—doing absolutely nothing for the benefit of the American people in the ongoing battle against the coronavirus,” Schumer said. “Now, to add insult to injury, when forced to act because the American people are demanding they do, Leader McConnell and President Trump hand in an assignment that is incomplete, emaciated and unacceptable—it’s an ‘F.’ And we are here today to make it very clear: this will not stand.”

The recent package of bills proposed by GOP lawmakers on Sunday did not meet the needs of Americans, Schumer claimed, with only $500 billion in support. The bills fall short of expectations set by the one and only COVID-19 stimulus package so far – the $2 trillion CARES Act – but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it would provide more “targeted support.”

Additionally, Mnuchin and President Donald Trump did not foresee the package resulting in government shutdowns across the country due to revenue running dry for local administrations.

Direct checks to Americans are not included in the new stimulus package which also makes no mention of transit funding.

The MTA is considering a $1 fare increase for mass transit riders and a 40% cut in service if it does not receive an injection of up to $12 billion to cover operating expenses through to the end of 2021. According to MTA Chairman Pat Foye, it needs $4 billion to make it through the year as it is — and without that funding, the authority will need to make “draconian” cuts.

The agency has already burned through the $4 billion provided through the CARES Act in April after ridership was cut down by over 90% across all systems; this accounts for over half of the MTA’s revenue.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has fallen under hard times as well, the rebuild of LaGuardia and JFK airports may be stalled if they do not receive $3 billion. Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that this could impact tourism, a major part of the New York economy.

Congress members in opposition to the bill include Hakeem Jeffries, Adriano Espaillat, Gregory Meeks, Jerry Nadler, and Nydia Velázquez.