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Posts by Nick Reisman
Mar 24th - 5:38 pm
Well, there isn’t much news today other than the failure of the House Republicans to get enough votes on their signature issue of the last seven years: Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
This came despite Trump’s own self-noted acumen for being a deal maker.
Trump, however, laid the blame not on his fellow majority Republicans in Congress, but the Democratic minority, Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called Obamacare the “law of the land” as focus may turn to tax reform in Congress.
Pelosi: “Quite frankly I thought they might have accomplished something in the first few months. They have absolutely no record of accomplishment.”
Trump insisted, meanwhile, Obamacare would “explode” on its own, handing it the Democrats to own.
In New York, the bill’s failure means that, for now, the state Medicaid takeover is out of reach.
Former Sen. George Maziarz was the last man standing among the plotters of a short-lived 2009 Senate coup, until he was charged with five counts of public corruption this week.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio laid the blame on Trump for a “a dynamic of hatred” in the country that led a murder to New York City.
No serious injuries were reported Friday morning after an Amtrak train derailed and swiped a New Jersey Transit train at Penn Station.
Law enforcement sources tell NY1 that a federal grand jury is continuing to hear testimony about the NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Mar 24th - 5:16 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants the American Health Care Act to die.
Rep. Chris Collins, however, wants to keep at least part of it alive: A measure that would require the state to takeover the county share of the Medicaid program.
“Despite today’s result, this process has provided the opportunity to push for reforms vital to Western New York, specifically my amendment to force Albany to end its unfunded mandate on New York’s counties once and for all,” Collins said in a statement. “I will continue advocating for that critical measure going forward and will remain resolute in my commitment to the taxpayers in my district.”
Collins, in the statement, said he is “extremely disappointed” with the bill being pulled on Friday in the House.
Mar 24th - 4:53 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement took a victory lap after the House Republican health care bill was yanked on Friday afternoon.
Cuomo, in a statement, called for the measure to die “once and for all.”
“This bill appears to be on life support for now – it should be killed once and for all,” he said.
“Republicans leadership may have counted on the complexity of the issue to confuse the debate, but at the end of the day it’s actually quite simple. This Congress tried to play the people of this nation for a fool – they were wrong, and they lost.”
Cuomo had opposed the measure, the American Health Care Act, but had kicked his opposition to the bill into high gear after Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso added an amendment that would have required New York state government to take on the costs of the Medicaid program currently paid for by counties in New York.
Faso and Collins had portrayed the measure as a property tax relief plan that would also bring needed votes for the bill from upstate Republicans.
But Cuomo had been on war footing over the provision, warning of the grave budgetary implications for the state: Some $7 billion in costs that would have hit in 2020.
“We saw Members of Congress openly bribe one-another at the expense of their own constituents, racing each other to decimate New York’s healthcare system while attempting to ram through a piece of legislation that would jeopardize the healthcare of 24 million people and supported by only 17 percent of Americans,” Cuomo said.
“Some Republican Members of Congress apparently forgot who put them there in the first place. So let me remind them: you are elected to fight for your constituents – not hurt them. For the first time in my life, I witnessed New York elected officials pound their chest proudly while cutting nearly $7 billion in funding for the people they serve, tripping over themselves to cut taxes for millionaires while simultaneously cutting healthcare services for seniors, women, and the disabled and killing jobs across the state.”
Mar 24th - 3:44 pm
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called public corruption a “cancer in state government” and defended on Friday at a press conference his prosecution of a state lawmaker and his predecessor.
Schneiderman’s office is prosecuting Sen. Robert Ortt, who is charged with three felony fraud counts stemming from his wife receiving a no-show job. The man who held his post before him, ex-Sen. George Maziarz, faces five counts of filing a false instrument as well.
Ortt angrily rebutted the charges on Thursday after his arraignment, calling the case a “political” witch hunt against him by Schneiderman.
Schneiderman, however, noted he has prosecuted Democrats in the past, including ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley and political operative Steve Pigeon.
“This is an investigation that has been ongoing that started with a referral from the Board of Elections,” he said. “The notion this is a political effort is completely at odds with the facts.”
Schneiderman also dismissed any questions over whether he would have to step up his office’s anti-corruption work with the departure of Preet Bharara as U.S. attorney. Schneiderman’s office worked with Bharara on several cases, including a sweeping bribery and bid-rigging cases that drew in charges for a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and upstate developers, as well as the ex-president of SUNY Nano.
“We’ve been proceeding with these cases all along. We’re going to do that and we will work with whoever is in place,” Schneiderman said. “Certainly, I had a good working relationship with Preet and wish him well, but the work of the office goes on. The work of investigating corruption goes on.”
Mar 24th - 1:36 pm
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to blast away at the effort to have the state take on county-level Medicaid costs, Republican House members from New York are pushing back.
In a joint statement released Friday by the offices of Reps. John Faso, Tom Reed, Elise Stefanik, Claudia Tenney and Lee Zeldin, Cuomo is criticized for his rhetoric in opposing the amendment in the overall American Health Care Act.
Faso, Reed, Tenney and Zeldin are confirmed yes votes on the bill; Stefanik is believed to be on the fence, though she announced earlier this morning funding for health benefit services such as maternity care would be included in the bill.
Cuomo has knocked the amendment as having the potential of giving New Yorkers a major tax increase, a claim the lawmakers cast doubt on in their statement.
“Our Medicaid mandate relief amendment would save homeowners and businesses hundreds of dollars on their annual property tax bill,” Faso said. “This is considered normal budgeting in virtually every other state. In New York, Governor Cuomo has responded with over-the-top threats and calls to raise taxes on the middle class by 26 percent. If 49 other governors can manage Medicaid without sticking homeowners with the bill, why can’t Mr. Cuomo?”
Zeldin, who earlier this year didn’t completely rule out a run for governor himself in 2018, said in his statement, “It’s disappointing and disturbing that Governor Cuomo has resorted to these disgusting and willfully untruthful tactics. This is all while the Governor always fails to state absolutely any acknowledgment whatsoever that Obamacare is flawed.”
Mar 24th - 12:20 pm
Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on Friday emerged from a closed-door meeting in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, saying “detailed” discussions were being held on issues such as raising the age of criminal responsibility.
“We are having true, legitimate, detailed policy-oriented discussions on that and other policy aspects of the budget,” Flanagan said after the meeting, which included Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Sen. Pat Gallivan.
Heastie has pushed for the provision, which raises the age of criminal responsibility to 18 in New York, to be included in the state budget agreement, expected to be finalized next week. Heastie wants the cases involving 16 and 17-year-old defendants moved to family court.
Gallivan is a key Republican lawmaker who has worked on the long-sought legislation.
But a deal on the measure remains elusive in part to Republican concerns over which crimes should be tried in family court, especially violent feloneis.
“We have diversity of opinions and demographics,” Flanagan said.
And, raising the possibility of a broader agreement in a budget package, Flanagan indicated measures were intersecting, as they tend to do in Albany during crunch time.
“Everything is tied together,” he said. “It’s not just one thing in isolation.”
Mar 24th - 11:56 am
Rep. John Faso on Friday in a radio interview pleaded to his conservative colleagues in the House of Representative to take a more pragmatic view of the health care debate, even while acknowledging the measure could change.
“Nothing is carved in stone,” Faso said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom on Friday morning. “But what we’re saying is the country can’t afford the level of growth in an opened-ended structure.
Asked about the opposition to the American Health Care Act from more conservative elements of the House Republican conference on the right-leaning Freedom Caucus, Faso said, “I do think we have to be pragmatic in how we approach this.”
Faso, along with Rep. Chris Collins, has sought to play a key role in the shape of the legislation, adding an amendment that would require the state to take on the county-level costs of the Medicaid program in New York.
The amendment has put Collins and Faso both at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, who has railed against the provision and its impact on New York. The measure would not take effect until 2020.
Nevertheless, the acrimony over the proposal remains.
“I particularly disagree with the fake news numbers that have come out of Gov. Cuomo’s office,” Faso said.
It’s unclear if Republicans have enough votes to pass the measure today. President Donald Trump has called for a vote today on the bill after the House GOP leadership postponed action on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Faso’s legislation wasn’t able to get all New York House Republicans on board, and it remains unclear how many may vote for the bill.
“The situation is fluid and I wouldn’t want to get out in front of a colleague,” Faso said.
Mar 24th - 8:24 am
Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik on Friday morning announced she had and a coalition of lawmakers had negotiated $15 billion in benefits care such as maternity, mental health and substance abuse treatment for the House GOP-backed health care bill.
In a statement Friday morning, Stefanik said the money would come from the Patient and State Stability Fund, with supplemental funding in order to receive additional resources for new mothers, those struggling with addiction or mental health problems.
The measure is described as helping provide funding while the “nation transitions” to the new health law, should it pass.
House Speaker Paul Ryan in a statement said he agreed to the amendment.
The inclusion of the amendment is potentially key as the House GOP’s leadership seeks to stitch together enough votes for passage of the bill, known as the American Health Care Act, on Friday.
Stefanik, a North Country lawmaker and the co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group, is a potentially pivotal vote for the legislation.
“Throughout negotiations with Congressional leadership and the White House, I have insisted that protections for maternity care must be included in any final package,” Stefanik said. “I spoke out in support of protections for mothers and children in meetings at the White House and with the House Leadership and Committee Chairs who have drafted this replacement legislation. I am pleased that I was able to secure this critical amendment.”
Stefanik’s planned vote had not been clear on the bill, and Republicans canceled a planned vote Thursday on the legislation, rescheduling it to today.
It’s not yet clear if House Republicans have enough votes for the passage of the bill. Two New York congressmen — Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins — have tried to bring around upstate members with a provision that would require state government pick up the county share of the Medicaid program.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration have railed against the Faso-Collins amendment and its potential impact on the state’s finances. The measure wouldn’t take effect until 2020.
Mar 24th - 5:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
The political action committee that backs the passage of the Child Victims Act in the Legislature has endorsed Democrat Brian Benjamin in the 30th Senate district.
Benjamin is running in a special election to replace Bill Perkins in the chamber after his city Council election in May.
The special election is scheduled for May 23.
“We are proud to endorse candidates committed to reforming the state’s statute of limitations for child sex abuse to better protect the children of New York,” said Greene County businessman Gary Greenberg, founder of Fighting for Children.
“Brian Benjamin will be a great addition to New York’s Senate. His tireless commitment to families in Harlem and the Upper West Side prove he will be a strong ally in our efforts to protect all children from abuse.”
The PAC was formed as the Child Victims Act has struggled in the Legislature. The measure would make it easier for the survivors of sexual abuse to file lawsuits.
“I’m truly honored to have the support of Fighting for Children. Ensuring the long-term health and security of our community begins with providing resources for our children and protecting them from harm,” Benjamin said.
“That’s why I’m committed to stand with Fighting for Children in bringing lasting changes to our state’s statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes.”
Benjamin announced earlier this month he would join the mainline Democratic conference in the state Senate.
Mar 24th - 5:30 am
From the Morning Memo:
Supporters of raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York are pointing to a study released this week that reviewed juvenile brain chemistry, finding that charging younger people as adults likely will lead to recidivism.
The report, released by the Scientists Action and Advocacy Network, comes as state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are negotiating the details of a potential agreement on the juvenile justice reform by raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18.
The report also found that charging people under 18 in the juvenile system would allow of interventions that would be able to reduce re-offending due to the malleability of younger minds.
The full report can be found here.
The budget is expected to pass by the end of next week, but Senate Republicans have raised concerns with the measure, questioning which violent offenses should still be tried in family or juvenile diversion court.