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Federal Funding En Route to NY

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Federal action will soon bring yet another patchwork of funding to New York, still reeling from the onset of COVID-19. Though the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan has yet to be ratified by Congress, top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer are confident that the bill will be passed due to the Democrat supermajority. They are using the budget reconciliation process–a contentious, often partisan process which allows lawmakers to pass certain budget measures with a simple majority vote. In this case, Democrats are openly intending to use the process to stymie effectual Republican dissent and filibusters via their supermajority. [1]

State actors, aware of the incoming package, are already maneuvering to get their fair share, New York included. This past week, Governor Cuomo sent a letter to the New York delegation demanding that a fair split of the stimulus provide New York State with no less than $15 billion in direct federal funding for combatting COVID-19. It appears that, as of yet, this will not be the case, as indicated in a letter Pelosi penned and sent to House Democrats. In it, Pelosi provides her and Schumer’s expected breakdown of funding to New York. 

Here’s the breakdown. First, New York will likely receive $12.6 billion in direct federal funding to combat COVID-19. Cuomo has already demanded that New York receive more and will likely plead his case to Biden at the White House, where he and a group of bi-partisan mayors and governors are set to meet with the new administration. In her letter, Pelosi was adamant that the funding more than adequately addresses New York’s COVID-19 concerns. Cuomo rebutted this notion on the grounds that New York was the first state hit with the virus and, as such, suffered most from federal inaction. [2]

Aside from COVID-19 funding, the approximately $50 billion in federal funding will be distributed as follows: $10.64 billion will go directly to local government efforts for use at local offices’ discretion; $12.3 billion will go to reopening shuttered schools safely and efficiently; and $8.8 billion will go to New York’s ailing transit system, which was recently considering austerity measures in light of a deficit drastically exacerbated by social distancing measures. It is unclear how these funds will be used, though averting these measures (which would induce significant reduction in staff, increase in fares, reduce service and cause longer waiting times) would most certainly benefit New Yorkers. New York’s airports will collectively receive $418 million for continued operation and maintenance. Lastly, New York’s small businesses will collectively receive $483 million, available in the form of newly-available grants and loans. [3]

Ultimately, federal funding will offer significant and desperately needed relief to the ailing New York State, which is currently facing a $63 billion deficit. In response to Cuomo’s concern that the funding as proposed is not enough, Pelosi had this to say: “Overall, New York State will receive over $50 billion in state and local funding, and more than $20 billion in additional funding to support families’ health, financial security and well-being.” [4] As funding comes around–Pelosi expects the bill to go through by the end of February–we will begin to see how New York recovers from COVID-19.

Sources:

[1] – Cochrane, Emily et al, “Republicans Denounce a Senate Power Play They Have Used Themselves,” The New York Times, 10 Feb. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/us/politics/stimulus-update-budget-reconciliation.html, acc. 12 Feb. 2021.

[2] – Munson, Emilie, “Pelosi rebuts Cuomo’s claim that federal aid leaves New York shortchanged,” Times Union, 12 Feb. 2021, https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Pelosi-rebuts-Cuomo-claims-that-coronavirus-bill-15944317.php, acc. 12 Feb. 2021.

[3] – Bowden, Ebony, “New York secures $50B in funding from Biden’s $1.9T COVID relief package,” New York Post, 12 Feb. 2021, https://nypost.com/2021/02/12/ny-secures-50b-in-funding-from-bidens-1-9t-covid-relief-plan/, acc. 12 Feb. 2021.

[4] – Op. Cit. n2.

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