Schumer comes bearing gifts
News conference after news conference, release after release.
For the last four years, Sen. Chuck Schumer, in the role of minority leader, would push and push on an issue for which he needed federal support, only to have his voice often fall on deaf ears.
What a difference one election season can make.
In perhaps the first concrete example of the power shift to Democrats in Washington, Schumer, the incoming Senate majority leader, announced Thursday that President-elect Joe Biden would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse fully states, cities, public authorities and other entities across the country for COVID-19 expenses.
The move reverses a decision made by President Donald Trump last March to reimburse only 75% of those expenses.
Schumer has sought the 100% reimbursement since that decision was made, and had reached out to Trump previously on the issue.
"President Trump delayed and never delivered on this common-sense request," Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro told The Point.
More recently, Roefaro said, Schumer had "many discussions" with Biden and his transition team, and the FEMA reimbursement issue was among the key topics on the agenda.
"Now the winds have changed," Roefaro said. "I think it’s a prelude of successes to come, with the senator as the majority leader and a president who cares about all 50 states … This isn’t just for New York. It’s spearheaded by Schumer but benefits all."
Next on the agenda: State and local relief funding. That, too, Roefaro said, is on the Schumer priority list.
—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Ramos spearheads police reform bills
In 2020, state lawmakers made changes in policing such as an anti-chokehold measure and getting rid of 50-a, the state law that had been used to hide police misconduct. The one commonality between many of the laws passed in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody was that they addressed policing "after the fact," regarding behavior that has already happened. Now Albany should do more to address the "ahead of time" side of the equation, Assemb. Philip Ramos told The Point.
Ramos, a Brentwood Democrat and former Suffolk County police officer, is well placed to bring up the issue: He says he has the most police experience among his Assembly colleagues. At the end of the last session, he introduced two bills on the preventative side of things: one mandating police officers report the misconduct of their colleagues on the force and another establishing three new crimes for falsely reporting an incident because of a belief or perception regarding a person's race, color, national origin, or ancestry.
The latter harkens back to the unfortunate trope of white people blithely calling the cops on people of color, as famously happened last year when a white woman phoned police on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park.
The former is an attempt to break down the "code of silence" among police officers "which implies an informal rule among them not to report on their fellow officer's mistakes, misconducts or crimes," according to the justification filed in support of the bill.
Ramos is working to find a Senate sponsor and is hoping to move both bills forward this session.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
A nation divided
For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/cartoons