The Trump administration announced plans Wednesday night to review federal funding to some cities where protests against police brutality and systemic racism have led to violence and destruction of public and private property. As part of an ongoing rift between the administration and cities who have refused assistance from federal law enforcement, the memo would direct the budget director to issue guidance to restrict federal grants to what Trump is calling “anarchist cities,” possibly including Seattle, Washington DC, Portland, and New York City.
Republicans in New York, a city that is facing an economic crisis after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, are sticking by Trump’s plan to hit the city’s finances even harder.
“President Trump is sending a clear message to Bill de Blasio and New York City’s left-wing elected officials; you can’t break federal laws with radical far left policies and squander billions in tax dollars on pet projects like Thrive NYC, then defund the NYPD with expectations that the federal government will bail you out,” Nicole Malliotakis, a state lawmaker who is now running for Congress, told TheNewstip in a statement Thursday morning.
“Federal dollars need to come with commitments and restrictions to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is being spent on its intended purposes,” she said.
Malliotakis, who is running against Rep. Max Rose in a district that covers Staten Island and a portion of Southern Brooklyn, is one of few Republican lawmakers in the largely Democratic New York City. Trump won the district in 2016, but Rose, a Democrat, unseated the district’s Republican member of Congress in 2018 amid a citywide shift towards the left. Staten Island, home to many of the city’s law enforcement officers, remains largely Republican.
Trump’s plan, which does not outline a specific legal authority and proposes shifting spending not authorized by Congress, came under immediate attack from New York Democrats.
“These actions are unconstitutional and shameful, and simply meant to fuel his base that never tire from his bigoted and dangerous policies, but New Yorkers and Americans of good conscience will reject his hateful agenda come November,” New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams told TheNewstip in a statement.
“Forget bodyguards, he better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Wednesday night.
“Look, the best thing he did for New York City was leave,” Cuomo added. “Good riddance, let him go to Florida, be careful not to get COVID.”
Joe Borelli, who represents Staten Island in the New York City Council, first texted “I’m gunna pass” when asked about Trump’s funding move. He then compared the memo to Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatening to stripe money from state police agencies who wouldn’t consider reform.
“How is this any different for New Yorkers from when Andrew Cuomo threatened to pull funding unless cities enacted his police reforms?” Borelli said in a text Thursday morning. “That was only a few weeks ago.”
Jerry Kassar, chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, which is backing Trump’s reelection, agreed with the president’s decision to defund New York City, because he said the city’s “own actions drifted into lawlessness.”
Brendan Lantry, the Staten Island GOP chairman, declined to respond to the question. Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo’s office did not respond to a request for comment about Trump’s plan.