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New York Gov. Cuomo pleads with Congress to pass new round of coronavirus relief

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks July 24, 2020, during a news conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol in Albany.

(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday called for the federal government to act soon on a stimulus bill that would help the state cover the revenue lost due to the COVID-19 crisis as well as the billions it spent over 148 days to control the spread of the deadly virus.

He also called on the state’s six Republican congressmembers to stand with its 21 House Democrats to present a united front in Washington for the spending plan.

“We have about a $14 billion loss of revenue. We have about a $5 billion cost of this COVID virus. We know that we’d have to have drastic budget cuts if we don’t get aid,” the governor said. “So, I’d ask the Republican congresspeople, put your politics aside. … Because if we don’t get state aid from Washington, it’s going to be a very bad situation for this state and the people in this state.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, announced Republicans will roll out their proposed stimulus plan this upcoming week. The GOP-led Senate and Trump administration will need to negotiate with the Democratic-led House to reach a final bill.

Not only is Cuomo seeking money for the state, he’s also pushing for an extension of the $600 weekly unemployment stipend Congress passed as part of the CARES Act in March. New York’s June unemployment rate of 15.7 percent, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s the third highest in the nation, behind only Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Critics of the measure however say the added unemployment benefit discourages recipients from actively seeking work as they can make more money off the program than with a job. Some Republicans have proposed slashing the stipend to about $200.

Also, the Congressional Budget Office reported that June’s federal budget deficit was $864 billion, an amount greater than the entire federal budget deficit for the year of 2018 in large part because of COVID-19 related stimulus measures.

While Cuomo looks to put pressure on Washington on a stimulus deal, he’s also upping the pressure on downstate businesses to comply with state social distancing and reopening guidelines. The governor has criticized the lack of local government enforcement in New York City and Long Island, which finally prompted him to send down a team of State Liquor Authority agents and State Police officers to hand out citations.

Cuomo said that state officials issued 105 citations over the weekend across all downstate counties, and some establishments could find their liquor licenses suspended as early as Monday when the State Liquor Board convenes.

On July 16, in response to what he deemed the city’s lackluster enforcement, Cuomo set up a three-strikes policy for repeat guideline violators, with the third violation leading to a license suspension. Businesses, which also face fines of up to $10,000 for violations, can see their license revoked immediately for what the governor has called egregious violations.

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