Good Morning from the Nation’s Capital  

As New York recovered from the budget process, Washington was full steam ahead on infrastructure and earmarks. A group of moderate Republicans and Democrats, led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) are working on a “ballpark” $600-800 billion counter to the Biden Administration’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan. Moore Capito got perhaps her biggest boost last Thursday, when close Biden ally Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) formally backed the compromise approach. Coons said that it would be smart to pass a scaled-down bipartisan infrastructure bill first and then take up the remaining priorities on Biden’s infrastructure agenda in a second bill that could pass the Senate under budget reconciliation. “We are trying to get $2 trillion in infrastructure and jobs investments moving ahead. Why wouldn’t you do $800 billion of it in a bipartisan way and do the other $1.2 trillion [Democrats] only through reconciliation?” he said.

However, the approach will be a tough sell with the rest of the Democratic Caucus, who likely already have the votes to pass the full $2.25 trillion package through budget reconciliation. Most notably, centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is refusing to back the compromise approach, saying last week, “We’re going to do whatever it takes. If it takes $4 trillion, I’d do $4 trillion but we have to pay for it.”  While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Leadership remain committed to a $2.25 trillion package, they do still want to test the waters of bipartisanship and try to win Republican support. Schumer said last Wednesday that he intends to take up a $30 billion water resources bill as an initial test of Republican willingness to work with Democrats on Biden’s sweeping infrastructure proposal.

In the State Capital…

Back in New York, the Cuomo scandals and investigation returned to the headlines last week. Assembly Judiciary Chair Charles Lavine said that he expects the probe into Governor Cuomo will be wrapped up sooner “rather than later.” The Committee will meet again this Wednesday. Lavine stated that the Committee has formally told members of the Cuomo Administration they are forbidden from retaliating against witnesses, and that—in addition to sexual harassment allegations and the nursing home scandal—the Committee is also looking into allegations top Cuomo staffers were directly involved in the writing and publishing of Cuomo’s memoir. The Committee has received over 100 “tips” and Lavine said last week : “This is not a responsibility that any involved take lightly.”
The Governor, himself, avoided questions on the matter last week, and has recently avoided the press altogether. Over the past few months, the Governor has retreated from the in-person news briefings that made him a national star early on in the pandemic.  And during a virtual news conference on Friday, he took only five pre-screened questions from reporters—none of those from Albany’s Legislative Correspondents’ Association, whose coverage has sparked most of the investigations.

Further, the Governor has not taken questions from some reporters in the LCA since February. And new reports on Cuomo’s draft version of Leadership Lessons show that his relationship with the press has actually been strained for quite some time. The Governor bemoaned New York’s press corps throughout the draft, saying “they would shout, talk over each other, border on the obnoxious, be argumentative and no matter how long I took questions they would yell additional questions at the end of the briefing… The Albany press corps is the most bellicose. Unlike in Washington, the Albany press corps doesn’t travel so they don’t cover any events outside of the Capitol.”

The Legislature will be returning to Session in Albany this week for their first “post-budget policy season” Session days. Albany insiders have been back and forth whether or not it will be a slow two month end of the 2021 Legislative Session or a policy filled sprint through the June 10th scheduled finish. We are leaning toward the latter. With packed agendas this week (read the Assembly Agendas here and the Senate Agendas here), and a number of big picture policy issues on the horizon—including construction wage theft, gig economy, and data privacy—it looks like the remainder of April, May, and June will be busy. Stay tuned new week for a “policy season” preview of all of the key issues.  

WSWRead more from our colleagues in Washington at Winning Strategies Washington on the Biden Administration’s proposed American Jobs Plan here.

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nys legislature: new member spotlight

Senator Jeremy Cooney (Senate District 56)
In November 2020, Senator Jeremy Cooney was elected to represent Rochester’s 56th Senate District (which includes parts of the City of Rochester as well as the Monroe County Towns of Brighton, Clarkson, Gates, Greece, Hamlin, Parma) that had been held by Republican Senator Joe Robach since 2003. His election gives Rochester an important presence in the Democratic Senate Majority Conference in Albany.
Prior to his time in the Senate, Senator Cooney began his career working on Capitol Hill for the late U.S. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. He later served as the chief of staff for the City of Rochester under Mayor Lovely Warren. He played a key leadership role in securing the city’s federal designation through the competitive Investing in Manufacturing Cities Program (IMCP) under the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Obama Administration. He also helped secure a $1.4M grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to establish and launch the Mayor’s Office of Innovation with a focus on poverty relief initiatives. 
Prior to running for public office, Senator Cooney served as the senior director for community relations with Empire State Development under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. At ESD, he helped lead public affairs for large scale economic development projects. 
Senator Cooney is active in the Rochester community. He sits on the President’s Advisory Council for Hobart & William Smith Colleges and is a member of the Vestry for Christ Church Rochester (Episcopal). He is a proud Eagle Scout and serves as a Vice Chair of the Executive Board for the Boy Scouts of America, Seneca Waterways Council. 
Adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, India, Senator Cooney was raised by a single mother in the City of Rochester and is a proud graduate of the Rochester City School District (RCSD). He is the first state senator to have earned an RCSD diploma in decades. Senator Cooney earned his B.A. with honors from Hobart College and his J.D. from Albany Law School. He is married to Dr. Diane Lu, a urologic surgeon with the University of Rochester Medical Center.
This session, he will serve as Chair of the new Senate Cities “2” Committee which will focus on issues impacting Upstate Cities. He will also serve as a member of the Committees on Codes; Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation; Higher Education; Insurance; Procurement and Contracts; and Transportation.