Democrats in the New York Senate blocked a motion to subpoena records that would shed further light on the scandal involving the coronavirus deaths at the state's nursing homes.
State Sen. Thomas O'Mara, a Republican, made the motion Monday during a virtual meeting of the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations.
The scandal threatens to despoil the self-aggrandizement of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for what he has tried to portray as a competent state government response to the pandemic. On Thursday, his administration was hit with a bombshell in the form of a scathing report by the state attorney general's office in New York that accused Cuomo of underreporting the number of actual coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
Instead of approving the motion on Monday, Democrats blocked it and muted O'Mara's microphone during the meeting.
Sen. James Skoufis, the top Democrat on the committee, accused O'Mara of an "ambush" for not giving him notice before the meeting, and said it was procedurally out of order because it wasn't made in writing.
"It is time for the Senate Democrat Majority to stop stonewalling and protecting Governor Cuomo on the nursing homes crisis," O'Mara said in response.
"In the wake of the attorney general's report, the failure of the Investigations Committee to immediately issue subpoenas and demand testimony from Governor Cuomo and his administration once again completely abandons legislative responsibility," he added. "It makes the Senate Democrats complicit in this tragedy. Every step of the way, the Senate Democrat Majority has been willing to give the Cuomo administration every opportunity to keep trying to cover its tracks and rewrite its false story on nursing homes."
'Their failure to act is shameful'
NY state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R) also excoriated the Democrats for blocking the motion.
"This partisan decision in the wake of the AG's report is a dereliction of duty on their part and a grave injustice for the families of the deceased. This is the sole committee equipped with the power to fully investigate state government, and their failure to act is shameful," said Palumbo in a statement.
When Cuomo was confronted about the report Friday, he lashed out and said that it didn't really matter whether the deaths were in a nursing home or outside of one.
"New York state we're only about 28% … but were below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes," Cuomo said. "But who cares?" 33 [percent], 28 [percent], died in a hospital, died in a nursing home — they died!"
Here's more about the Cuomo nursing home scandal:
NY A.G. James Probes Cuomo On Nursing Home Deaths | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC www.youtube.com