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Continuing to Work for New Yorkers During the COVID-19 Crisis

Washington, March 28, 2020

Dear Friends,

Fighting for the Port Authority

Without the Port Authority, New York and New Jersey would struggle to function. More than operating the world’s most active bus terminal, the Port Authority also manages the nation’s busiest airport system, our region’s vital commuter rail system, the East Coast’s biggest seaport, and every vehicle that crosses between New York and New Jersey, all the while supporting approximately one million jobs in the region. Unsurprisingly, with travel and economic activity abruptly slowing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Port Authority has been severely impacted and now finds itself in dire economic straits.

With the Port Authority reporting a 75% decrease in commuter rail ridership, over a 50% decrease in airport passenger volume, and substantial declines in vehicle and cargo volumes, I led a bipartisan group of New York and New Jersey lawmakers in writing to House and Senate leadership calling for financial assistance to the Port Authority to be included in Congressional COVID-19 supplemental spending bills. I am proud that the phase 3 stimulus package includes substantial emergency funds for airports, light rail, and other transportation infrastructure, enabling the Port Authority to serve New York and New Jersey throughout this pandemic.  If we expect the Port Authority—and with it, our region—to recover from COVID-19, we must continue to provide it with the support it needs.

Read our letter here.

Supporting Non-Profit Museums During the COVID-19 Pandemic

New York is not New York without its more than 100­ non-profit museums. Not only do they offer vibrancy and culture to New Yorkers, they are crucial to our ­economy, employing more than 60,000 people statewide and generating $5.4 billion annually in revenue. But with tourism at a standstill and New Yorkers sheltering at home, the COVID-19 crisis has hit our museums especially hard, drying up their revenue stream and placing many museums’ futures in doubt. Unless our nation's non-profit museums receive significant financial assistance, one third of all museums nationwide will never be able to open their doors again.

It was with that in mind that I, along with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) led the New York City Congressional delegation on a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) calling for at least $4 billion in federal assistance for the nonprofit museum industry. With museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art projecting losses of up to $100 million over the coming months, it is imperative that the federal government step in and ensure the continued survival of these cherished, invaluable cultural sites. I was pleased to see the phase 3 stimulus bill makes nonprofit organizations eligible for small business relief and provides additional, emergency funding for arts organizations and museums. I will continue to work to make sure that our cultural institutions receive the support they need.

Read our letter here.

Ensuring the Recovery of New York’s Mass Transit

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which millions of New Yorkers typically rely on every day, has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. With New Yorkers staying home to limit the spread of the virus, ridership has dropped precipitously, sharply decreasing the MTA’s revenue. When you add the millions of dollars that the MTA has spent on cleaning and sanitizing stations, buses, and subways, it’s clear that the MTA will need significant financial support to resume serving New Yorkers. That’s why I’ve called for any relief package passed by Congress to include financial assistance for America’s mass transit like the MTA. I am pleased that the phase 3 stimulus package includes $25 billion in emergency federal aid for transportation agencies across the country, including nearly $4 billion to ensure that the MTA can continue to operate during this crisis. I stand ready to fight for any additional funding the MTA requires to continue serving New Yorkers.

Read our letter to House leadership calling for MTA support here.

Removing Obstacles to a COVID-19 Vaccine

The scientists working around the clock to develop a COVID-19 vaccine deserve every possible tool at their disposal as they research the vaccine that will save millions of lives. Unfortunately, while experts have told Congress time and again that fetal tissue offers the gold standard of vaccine research, American scientists can’t use it for research because of a ban imposed by the Trump Administration last year. If the Trump Administration continues to prioritize an anti-science agenda over stopping this pandemic, millions of lives could be lost due to lost time. That’s why I called on the Trump administration to lift the ban and improve our chances of researching and developing a vaccine that would immediately halt the spread of COVID-19.  

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