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Cuomo tells Republicans to ‘stop abusing’ states like New York and New Jersey hit hardest by coronavirus

Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo shows his masks during a press conference at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on May 26, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City.

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Republican lawmakers on Wednesday to “stop abusing” states that have born the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak and are in need of federal aid.  

New York is facing a $13.3 billion revenue shortfall from the state’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak that has left a record number of people unemployed and businesses shuttered for almost two months. Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, have voiced opposition to allocating federal funds to the states hit hardest by the pandemic, many of which are led by Democrats.

Cuomo has previously lashed out at McConnell for characterizing those funding requests as “blue-state bailouts,” and ramped up his rhetoric Wednesday after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.

“My point to our friends in the Congress: stop abusing New York. Stop abusing Massachusetts and Illinois and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stop abusing the states that bore the brunt of the Covid virus through no fault of their own,” Cuomo said during a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington. 

“We bore the brunt of it, and now you want to hold that against us?” Cuomo added.

He said New York, which has repeatedly called for greater federal assistance, has put more money into the “federal pot” for years while many Republican-led states, such as Kentucky and Florida, have taken more in federal dollars than they’ve contributed to the U.S. Treasury. 

When red-state leaders like McConnell and Scott pretend otherwise, “they’re lying,” Cuomo said.

“I know that’s a strong word,” but “they know that they take more money,” Cuomo said. “Sen. McConnell has his hand out in the Senate.”

“When they make it personal to New York, and they’re lying, I’m going to point it out,” he added.

Balance of Federal Payments

Source: Rockefeller Institute of Government

The Empire State governor said that while New York has had to respond to one of the worst outbreaks in the U.S., it means it should receive more aid, not less. He cited earthquakes in Los Angeles, Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana as some examples of disasters where the federal government helped state economies. 

“We didn’t say, ‘Well, that’s Louisiana’s fault. They had the hurricane. Well, that’s Texas’ fault. They had the floods.’ It was nobody’s fault, and we were there to help because that’s who we are and that’s what we believe,” he said. 

Cuomo met with Trump earlier Wednesday to discuss the state’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak and its approach to restarting the U.S. economy. Cuomo said that he and Trump discussed a number of large-scale infrastructure programs in New York City, including construction on a Manhattan subway line and a new AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport.

Cuomo said he asked the president to expedite a federal environmental review required for the AirTrain project. “He said we’ll talk next week,” Cuomo said.

Asked if Trump was aligned with Republican leaders like McConnell and Scott, Cuomo said: “I think the president is focused on the reopening, on stimulating the economy, and getting the economy back. I think that’s his focus, I think that’s the correct focus.”

The Democratic governor said “it was a good conversation.” He noted, however, that “there are political differences between myself and the president.”

Spokesmen for McConnell and Scott did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Cuomo’s remarks.

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