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WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Thursday rejected a measure to punish New York and reduce its federal funding over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s underreporting of nursing home deaths by some 50 percent.
The measure was introduced by GOP Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) as an amendment to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package and was defeated in a 50-50 vote along party lines on Thursday afternoon.
The measure needed a simple majority to be passed.
If approved, the amendment would have reduced funding to states like New York where an attorney general’s report revealed that the Cuomo administration misled the public about the total number of nursing home residents.
“Requiring states to provide accurate data is common sense for anyone who believes as I do, that we should have a science-based fact-driven response to this pandemic,” Scott said in a speech on the Senate floor.
“We should not offer more funding to states that have mismanaged, and then covered up their pandemic response, until they fix it. It simply makes no sense,” he said.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., introduced a measure to punish New York and reduce its federal funding over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s underreporting of nursing home deaths by some 50 percent.AP
Scott’s amendment would have also established a fund ensuring the accurate reporting of COVID-19 related deaths of residents or staff at nursing homes.
Democrats argued against the measure — bizarrely suggesting the cover-up was former President Donald Trump’s fault.
“They never had a plan. They didn’t help the states. This is an effort, an ongoing effort, to blame states, when the federal government dropped the ball when it came to long term care,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.).
Calls are growing for Cuomo’s health chief Howard Zucker to resign after a blistering report from Attorney General Letitia James found Cuomo and his health agency withheld an accurate count of the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 by some 50 percent by excluding residents who died after being taken to hospitals.
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The bombshell findings pushed Zucker to finally release figures showing that 12,743 residents had died in nursing homes and hospitals as of Jan. 19, up from 8,711 just a day earlier.
Grieving relatives blasted Cuomo’s handling of the crisis as “an absolute disgrace,” while a judge on ruled Wednesday that Cuomo’s Health Department broke the law by refusing to provide a government watchdog with an accurate nursing home death toll.
Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it would be up to the Department of Justice, not President Biden, to decide if an investigation into Cuomo’s role in the scandal was needed.