Good Morning from Washington, D.C…
The fallout from the January 6th insurrection at the United States Capitol continues this week in Washington D.C. Last Wednesday, the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, on a charge of “incitement of insurrection,” by a bipartisan 232-to-197 vote (there were only 10 Republican votes, but that makes it the most bipartisan impeachment vote ever). In a striking break with the President, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would consider convicting the President on the charge—just 18 votes from Republicans would, presumably, lead to conviction. The impeachment will likely be the Senate’s first order of business under the Biden Administration and new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer . . . except, again, the House may wait to officially transmit the impeachment to the Senate, meaning it could be delayed further. Almost everyone in Washington wants to move on.
Once impeachment (and the Trump Administration) is in the rearview, Washington will shift its focus to President-Elect Joe Biden’s ambitious first hundred days plan. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have committed to moving the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill announced last week through both of their Houses with alacrity. “The emergency relief framework announced by the incoming Biden-Harris administration tonight is the right approach,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. “We will get right to work to turn President-elect Biden’s vision into legislation that will pass both chambers and be signed into law.”
The stimulus bill could also be the first use of budget reconciliation in the new 117th Congress. While Democrats have said that it is not “outside the realm of possibility” they will get 60 votes, Senior Democratic Aides have said they won’t wait long for Republicans to come around. The budget reconciliation process—where bills are passed in the Senate circumventing the filibuster with only a 51-vote majority—was used to pass the Affordable Care Act under President Obama and Trump’s overarching tax package in 2017. While Democrats will try to win votes first, they won’t tolerate “political games” and will quickly move to pass Biden’s stimulus package through reconciliation, if necessary. “I think a lot of Democrats have etched in their brain the ‘Lucy and the football’ incident we had with the Affordable Care Act,” a Senior Democratic Aide said, referencing the months Democrats spent fruitlessly trying to win GOP votes for the bill in 2010.
- $1,400 stimulus checks
- $400 a week in an unemployment insurance supplement
- $160 billion national vaccination program, expanded testing, and a public health program
- $440 billion in aid to communities
- $90 billion in grant funds for businesses
- $350 billion in State and Local Aid
- $170 billion for reopening schools
- Expansion of refundable tax breaks
- Expanded paid leave
Back in New York…
Governor Cuomo delivered his State of the State address in four parts last week themed “Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew.” As we predicted in our 2021 Preview, the Governor included plans for Recreational Marijuana, Mobile Sports Betting, a $306 billion infrastructure plan, and an overarching plan to spur the green economy that includes provisions to promote both capacity and projects across the State. Cuomo also included an overarching telehealth expansion, a data privacy plan, provisions to promote reopening, and small business relief. Read the full briefing book here. Overall, the briefing book and the address, were light on actual policy and new initiatives. The Governor’s Executive Budget is due tomorrow, January 19th—expect to see more on the substantive discussion this week.
The headlines this week will be dominated by President-Elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration this Wednesday and the impeachment vote in the Senate, but back in New York we are seeing packed Committee Agendas, and almost 5,000 bills have been introduced in both Houses. You will want to pay attention to the Legislature’s priorities this week, including the HERO Act and other COVID-19 protections for employees, election law changes, and the Legislature’s proposals on Mobile Sports Betting (which are on agendas in both Houses).
As always, thanks for being a part of the team, and we hope you have a safe and reflective day in celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
— Jack O’Donnell
REMEMBERING MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
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NYS Legislature: New Member Spotlight
Assembly Member Jon Rivera was elected to the 149th Assembly District, which includes the Hamlet of Lake View, the Villages of Blasdell and Hamburg, the Town of Hamburg, and parts of the Cities of Buffalo and Lackawanna, after longtime Assembly Member Sean Ryan announced he would be running for the 60th State Senate District.
Rivera is a lifelong resident of Buffalo’s West Side, where he resides with his wife, Stephanie, and their young daughter, Ana.
Jon is a proud graduate of the Buffalo public schools, where he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College in Business Administration. After graduating, Jon began his own public service career in the office of Congressman Brian Higgins during his first term in office, where he represented Congressman Higgins in the community and advocated for constituent needs in Washington.
Jon then turned his career to the private sector, where he worked for HSBC Bank. By the time he was 23, he had moved from customer service to Branch Manager and Licensed Sales Professional (LSP). In this role, he managed multiple branches, including the one in his home neighborhood of Grant & Ferry on Buffalo’s West Side.
After growing a career in banking, Jon sought a return to public service and accepted a position in the office of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz as the liaison to the County Legislature. While there, he assisted in the drafting of legislation and the passage of multiple on time budgets. After a few years, Jon was promoted the Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Public Works in Erie County, where he currently serves.
As a volunteer, Jon has been an active member of the community, serving as the board chair of Open Buffalo, a board member of the Massachusetts Avenue Project and Hispanics United of Buffalo, as well as Chair of the Erie County Commission on New Americans.