The pandemic of 2020 has brought many changes to the way governments function. New York was one of the most pandemic-affected cities. In response, the New York lawmakers gave governor Andrew Coumo “Unlimited” emergency powers. With the pandemic almost under control, people are now suggesting to suspend these emergency powers.
The backstory of the Emergency Powers
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In early March 2020 the Democrat government faced pressure to respond to raging pandemic. The law was passed to give Cuomo emergency powers. The law gave the governor emergency powers. He could issue unilateral directives necessary to cope with any declared disaster.
Governor Cuomo exercised his powers to issue 150 executive orders. The orders included closing schools, changing election procedures and setting parameters for business operation.
The aftermath of the Unlimited Power
Cuomo was given unlimited power based on the urgency of the situation. He did use it to distribute funds, in an attempt to save some lives. One of his most contentious executive order was directing nursing homes to take on COVID-19 patients. This was done to reduce pressure on the overcrowded hospitals.
He passed the order without looking into the resources of the nursing homes. He didn’t provide them with additional staffing support, testing, or personal protective gear. This felicitated the virus to spread unchecked through the countless ill-equipped facilities. While more than 6,600 New Yorkers died inside long-term care facilities, the true death toll remains unknown.
Contention to the Unchecked Emergency Powers
Governor Cuomo allocated funds without any checks and balances in place. Rather than consulting multiple parties, the governor distributed funds in ways he saw fit. This has now resulted in a financial crisis.
With this much mismanagement calls for check on his powers is getting louder by the day. Across party lines, leaders are now questioning his absolute authority in decision-making.
According to Republican State Senator Joseph Griffo, the Deputy Minority Leader, “We need to have co-equal branches of government re-established here. You can’t just cede all your power to one branch. I don’t believe this is partisan in any way. At this point, I think it’s now the branches of government beginning to say, ‘Hey wait a minute.’”
It remains to be seen how long will the Governor be allowed to hold absolute authority over affairs. One can only hope for normalcy to return in the post-pandemic world.
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