[Leer en español]
A group of Republican senators is demanding that the Congressional Judiciary Committee hold a hearing on NY nursing home deaths and in other states ruled by Democrats.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, to hold a hearing to analyze the number of elderly nursing home deaths in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Ten of the Republican senators joined Cruz in writing that congressional oversight “is necessary to ensure the protection of the civil rights of seniors” and to “seek justice.”
The Republican senators’ request comes after the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division announced that it would not investigate states that implemented policies requiring nursing homes to take in coronavirus patients.
Cruz and fellow Republicans wrote that “there is ample basis to investigate the nursing home response” in the four states “particularly in light of the billions of dollars Congress appropriated for the COVID-19 response.”
Is Cuomo responsible?
The letter specifically targets the leadership of outgoing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.
“These four states pressured nursing homes to accept patients with active COVID-19 infections who were discharged from hospitals at the height of the pandemic,” they wrote in the letter.
“By discharging patients to long-term care facilities, states likely increased the case rate or the risks of death for nursing homes,” they wrote.
In addition, the Republican senators recalled the case of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who covered up the true number of deceased seniors.
“There is significant evidence that Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and his senior staff engaged in a cover-up to minimize the number of deaths at these facilities,” they added.
The lawmakers said the United States needs to “understand what happened” and to what “extent” states violated federal law.
“Now, with the Department’s decision not to open a CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act) investigation, a hearing is needed for the same reasons, as well as to ensure that the Department is acting impartially and in accordance with the law,” the senators continued.
Joining Cruz in the letter are Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Lee of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
The orders from the administrations of the four governors, all Democrats, were criticized for potentially fueling the spread of the virus and drew the attention of then-President Donald Trump’s Justice Department in the midst of the presidential campaign.
In Pennsylvania, the order drew particularly harsh criticism from Republican lawmakers and candidates, but it is far from clear that the policy led to an outbreak or death.
In New York, however, Attorney General Letitia James issued a report in which she revealed that Governor Andrew Cuomo concealed the number of elderly deaths in nursing homes and that the order issued by the Democrat may have caused the increase in cases of contagion.