NEW YORK — Denouncing it as bloated and containing unrelated items, New York City’s only Republican member of Congress says she will vote against the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that is set for a vote Friday.
“I am saddened by this package that has come forward because it is a $1.9 trillion spending plan at a time when we’re approaching a $30 trillion debt in this country and there’s still $1 trillion left unspent from previous packages,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said in a Thursday night interview on Inside City Hall with NY1 political anchor Bobby Cuza. “This bill, unfortunately, has so much unrelated stuff in there that has made the bill so expensive, and it doesn’t just focus on the tailored needs of our communities.”
The Biden administration and Congress are fast-tracking the coronavirus package that includes aid for states, cities, individuals, the unemployed, schools, and much more. It would provide millions of people with $1,400 direct payments, and it contains billions of dollars for vaccines and COVID-19 testing, schools, state and local governments, the ailing restaurant and airline industries, and emergency jobless benefits while providing tax breaks to lower earners and families with children. And it calls for sending $350 billion to state and local governments.
Democrats are preparing for U.S. House approval Friday of an initial version of the package, although it’s not clear what the final version will look like; the U.S. Senate's nonpartisan parliamentarian has ruled that an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 cannot be included in the bill, Regardless, the package could become pass the full Congress within weeks.
Malliotakis and Republicans have been in lockstep in their argument that Democratic stimulus package proposals have been too massive and feature unrelated funding allocations. The GOP has instead offered up much smaller stimulus deals and hasn’t backed Democrats’ efforts to provide direct aid to states and localities.
For her part, Malliotakis told NY1 she wants direct aid, and advocated for funding for unemployment, direct stimulus for New Yorkers, and help for small businesses. But she argued there are unnecessary elements of the package, including funds for Planned Parenthood and unrelated transportation projects. She also said the bill has an excessive amount of money for school reopenings, while not carving out enough money for vaccine manufacturing and distribution.
“It’s just a bloated spending plan, and that just is a sign of a very mismanaged government,” Malliotakis said.
Democrats have countered that a wide-ranging and hefty stimulus package is necessary to provide funding for states and localities throughout the country that are facing massive budget shortfalls and potential losses of services due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and southern Brooklyn in the 11th Congressional District, said if New York does get direct aid from the federal government, she wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to commit they won’t increase income or property taxes, and vow to stop toll increases.
Malliotakis on Her Call for Cuomo to Resign
Even before Gov. Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexually harassing a former aide, Malliotakis, a former member of the State Assembly and frequent critic of the governor, called on Cuomo to resign over his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration is facing widespread scrutiny, and a U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation, over nursing homes and the data regarding recorded deaths.
Malliotakis praised the growing number of Democrats joining Republican calls for accountability. And although she didn’t explicitly call for Cuomo to be impeached, Malliotakis said lawmakers “should be exploring every option,” and accused his administration of underreporting the number of deaths among nursing home residents and underreporting the number of COVID-19-positive patients they placed in nursing homes. She also hammered the governor for allegedly threatening Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim on a phone call earlier this month.
“All of these actions are unacceptable and unbecoming of a governor,” Malliotakis said. “He’s not taken any responsibility. He’s not apologized to the public.”
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Watch the full interview above.
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