The $900 billion federal COVID relief bill negotiated in Congress will send more than $54 billion to New York and New Yorkers, the state’s senior U.S. senator said Monday.
And while the huge pile of money will contain specifically earmarked allocations for state and local governments, it does not contain the aid that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said is needed to close a budget gap estimated at $15 billion for the state alone, plus billions more for local governments and assorted operating authorities.
That, said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is a fight for another day, when Donald Trump is no longer president.
“Is it enough? No,” Schumer said Monday afternoon in a news conference. “The thing I most regret is that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell blocked state and local aid.”
He called the relief bill an emergency survival measure, not a stimulus package, but a good relief bill nonetheless:
“This brings some real relief to people in upstate New York state,” he said.
MONEY FOR NEW YORK
Schumer listed some of the highlights:
- $20 billion-plus for a second round of forgivable loans to businesses under the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program.
- $9 billion in direct cash payments of $600 for moderate-income individuals and $1,200 for couples, plus $600 for each child. (“I would have been for $1,200 each,” Schumer said.)
- $6.5 billion-plus in enhanced jobless assistance; unemployment checks would have halted Dec. 26 for a million New Yorkers without the measure.
- $4 billion for relief to K-12 public schools.
- $1.6 billion for COVID vaccination, testing and tracing or other local health purposes, half of it for New York City.
- $1.4 billion for New York’s public university system, SUNY and CUNY.
- $1.3 billion for an unprecedented federal emergency rental and utility assistance program.
- $1 billion through FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund for COVID-19.
- $1 billion to hospitals and other health centers and health providers.
- $465 million for Child Care Development Block Grants to child care providers for increased operation costs during the pandemic.
- $426 million to the state Department of Transportation to replace declining revenues and support construction jobs.
- $313 million for an emergency education relief fund the governor can use at his discretion.
- $260 million in FEMA funeral assistance to those who’ve lost loved ones to COVID.
- $200 million for county bus services and upstate transit agencies.
- $105.5 million for airports to continue operating safely during the pandemic including $6.5 million for the Capital Region.
- Millions or billions in relief or assistance for live arts performance venues; airlines; aviation contractors; broadband internet access for low-income families; SNAP, TEFAP, P-EBT, CSFP, Meals on Wheels and other nutrition programs; agricultural producers; and fisheries support. These allocations are national rather than specific to New York or other states, but Schumer expects New York will wind up with a significant portion of the total of each.
McConnell’s opposition to what he calls a bailout for states amid the pandemic has been a favorite angry talking point for Cuomo for much of this year, with the governor calling out the Kentucky Republican as misguided at best and attempting to pre-emptively shame New York’s congressional delegation if they came home without an aid package.
On Monday, Cuomo took a more measured tone.
“I know Sen. Schumer was working very hard to get the best he could for New York,” he said. “[Democrats] were in an impossible situation because you have Sen. McConnell, who still takes the position that we should bankrupt the states and wouldn’t do state and local assistance.”
Cuomo said McConnell’s successful stand against aid means layoffs within the state and local workforce, but he held out hope.
“I just hope Joe Biden gets in quickly and sanity restores to the nation,” he said.
Schumer also said there’s hope around the corner.
“When we have President Biden after Jan. 20 we’re going to fight for more money,” he said, blaming Republican allegiance to President Trump for the block on state and municipal aid.
With Trump out of office, such aid stands a chance of passage even if the Republicans continue to hold the U.S. Senate, and a better chance if Democrats take control of the chamber, Schumer said.