New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will soon be gone.
But Republicans in the U.S. Senate seek to make sure his legacy lives on.
Led by Sens. Ted Cruz and Chuck Grassley, 11 GOP lawmakers are asking Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to call an investigation into the COVID policies of Democratic governors where a high ratio of the elderly died.
“Congressional oversight is needed to ensure the protection of seniors’ civil rights and to seek justice for seniors in long-term care facilities who lost their lives to COVID-19.” the letter says, noting that the Biden Justice Department recently announced that it was refusing to pursue investigations in a few blue states.
The Republicans noted they first approached Durbin with this idea six months ago and he has ignored them.
“This decision not to pursue potential civil rights violations in states with high-profile Democrat governors raises serious concerns that the Biden administration is acting based on politics, not the law,” the letter says.
“There is ample basis to investigate the nursing home response in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey, particularly in light of the billions of dollars that Congress appropriated for the COVID-19 response. These four states pressured nursing homes to accept patients with active COVID-19 infections who were being discharged from hospitals at the height of the pandemic. Moreover, these states did so despite directions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that hospitals should not discharge patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis to a long-term care facility unless ‘the selected long-term care facility [is] able to safely care for a patient recovering from the virus by implementing all recommended infection control. Procedures.’”
The senators argue that by discharging virus-positive patients to nursing homes, those states “likely increased the case rate or fatality risks for nursing homes.”
“And then, to cap it off, there is significant evidence that Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and his senior staff engaged in a cover-up to minimize the death toll in these facilities.”
“We need to understand what happened and the extent to which these states violated federal law,” the letter adds.
The lawmakers also point out that a handful of Republicans also asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to probe whether state policies conflicted with federal requirements and determine whether state officials covered that up.
“Now, with the Department’s decision not to open a[n] … investigation, a hearing is needed for those same reasons, as well as to ensure that the Department is acting impartially and in accordance with the law,” they wrote.
“As part of our duty to oversee the Department of Justice, we need to know, for example, why the Department has decided not to pursue a[n] … investigation, who made that determination, and whether that decision was made in consultation with the White House. Indeed, these questions are all the more important considering that the Civil Rights Division under Kristen Clarke has been extraordinarily aggressive in pursuing actions against political opponents, but appears to have taken a markedly different approach with regard to this investigation.”
“Grieving families deserve more than silence from this Committee: they deserve answers and accountability,” the senators maintain, asking that the hearing focus on New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey to see if they violated senior citizens’ civil rights by sending COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, whether they lied about virus deaths, and whether the Justice Department is impartially investigating these cases.
In those four states, according to an AARP dashboard, more than 27,000 nursing home patients combined have died from COVID-19.
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