Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted the $900 billion stimulus agreement reached by Congress Sunday, saying the plan falls far short.
“I can’t even call what the Congress has agreed to a ‘stimulus.’ It’s not a stimulus — it’s a short-term survival plan,” said the mayor during his Monday briefing with reporters.
“It’s months late, it’s billions short,” he added.
The COVID-19 relief package will likely provide most Americans with $600 checks and offer $300 in bonus jobless claims. The previous package offered $1,200 checks and $600 in additional unemployment support.
“A stimulus would actually stimulate the economy,” de Blasio said.
“They sure don’t understand what the people of New York need,” he added.
The package does not include direct aid to the city and state to close massive budget gaps caused by the virus.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also blasted the package during a separate briefing, calling it "un-american." But he gave credit to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for their work.
"They were in an impossible situation, because you have Senator McConnell who still takes the position that you should bankrupt the states," said Cuomo. "The National Governors Association sent a letter to congress asking for $500 billion in state and local assistance, do you know what we got in this bill? Zero."
.@NYGovCuomo takes a very different tone than @NYCMayor on federal stimulus. Says @SpeakerPelosi and @SenSchumer were in “an impossible position,” because @senatemajldr wants to “bankrupt the states”— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) December 21, 2020
Cuomo says Democrats were given a “Sophie’s choice,” a solid 1982 reference.
"The states are the country. If you bankrupt the states, you bankrupt the country," the governor went on to say. "It makes absolutely no sense and what they did provided no funding for New York State, New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, the counties. We have a $15 billion deficit caused by COVID, caused by the federal government, caused by their incompetence, caused by their negligence, caused by the COVID spring ambush. I can't make up a $15 billion deficit. That means we will lay off people, and that means we will lay off people who we need to do the vaccines. Lay off national guard expenses, lay off police, lay off fire people, lay off hospital people, in the middle of a pandemic that's what you want me to do?"
"I just hope Joe Biden gets in quickly and sanity restores to the nation," he added.
The mayor’s and governor's comments come as the city continues to battle growing cases of coronavirus. They're urging New Yorkers to stay home and take restrictions seriously during the holiday season, pointing to a spike in cases after Thanksgiving.
“We are really concerned about Christmas and this whole holiday season,” said de Blasio. “We can’t handle another spike.”
“Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah season, New Years Eve season, this is a long stretch. But if we stay smart a spike is not inevitable if we get through the holiday season, then its just us against the vaccine.”
As a new strain of COVID-19 has emerged in the United Kingdom, the mayor said he is in favor of a travel ban from Europe, something Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now calling for. At minimum, de Blasio would like to see mandatory testing for travelers coming from Europe.
“The new strain makes me even more worried,” the mayor said.
“The authorities say they haven't found the strain here yet, they are science based, until they find this strain they will say there’s no strain," Cuomo said. "I believe intuitively, it’s already here. I believe that because if it's been flying around the world it will be here,” said Cuomo. “I lived this and you lived this, this was the spring. This is how we had that New York ambush in the first place.”
“This is a major problem, and for us to once again be incompetent as a federal government and take no action is just not a viable option for us in New York. We learned this lesson the hard way and we're not going to go through it again,” he added.
Meanwhile, the city has taken on an aggressive approach to vaccinations — it is vaccinating at more than two times the national average.
In New York City, 42.2% of available doses have been administered, compared to 19.6% for the nation.
As of Sunday, more than 18,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since its arrival in the city a week ago.
The seven-day average positivity rate stands at 6.05%, well above the 5% threshold.