NEW YORK — As he projects optimism that Joe Biden will get a coronavirus stimulus deal done, Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will speak to the transition team of the president-elect throughout the evening and this week.
In his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview on Inside City Hall, de Blasio told anchor Errol Louis he’s had calls out to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and will speak to transition aides.
It’s unclear if de Blasio has spoken to Biden or Harris directly yet. The mayor also did not say if there has been any discussions for him to potentially get a position in the Biden administration, although he recently said he didn’t have any interest.
It’s not clear what de Blasio intends to discuss with the transition team, but the stimulus deal is sure to be a major topic of discussion. In his interview with NY1, the mayor stressed, as he has for weeks, that his top priority is a coronavirus stimulus package for New York. He said a deal is “in sight,” and theorized it may be done before Biden is even inaugurated.
That hope, however, could face roadblocks in the U.S. Senate. Republicans in the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have frequently blocked House Democrats’ efforts to pass another coronavirus relief package. One of the sticking points has been how much direct aid should be given to states and cities, with Democrats wanting the federal government to give far more money to localities. While the House and Senate were able to hammer out stimulus bills earlier in the year, Democrats may need control of the Senate to get the aid localities like New York want.
One thing the mayor indicated he would not be keen to get from the new White House is intervention on NYPD reform. When asked if he’d support the Department of Justice under Biden intervening, the mayor said he thought the city should handle police reform.
“The best way to reform a police agency is to do it locally. Elected leaders, acting on the needs right in front of us,” the mayor said. “I want constant reform, I want an NYPD that’s more transparent and that’s more connected to the community. There’s a lot to do, and we’re ready to do it.”
The mayor did not provide details on what specific reforms he wanted for the NYPD, or plans to get it done amid backlash from the department and the unions.
De Blasio’s leadership on police reform has come under fire in recent months. While supporters of the police paint the mayor as the leader of the “Defund the Police” movement for acquiescing to pressure from protesters to reduce the NYPD’s budget by $1 billion, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and activists disputed that figure. For years overall, the NYPD under de Blasio, while presiding over a steep drop in crime before this year, was accused of over-aggressive policing of communities of color and excessive force.
De Blasio also discussed how much time New York City may have to fight back a second wave of COVID-19, theorizing we have just “weeks and days.” The mayor did not provide any scientific evidence for that prediction.
The city's current seven-day average for reported COVID-19 cases is 779, well over the 550 threshold that the city was able to stay below for the past few months. The positivity rate is now 2.21%.
Watch the full “Mondays with the Mayor” interview above.
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