Press Release

ICYMI: Video: Gillibrand Demands Answers On Federal Process For Delivering Disaster Assistance To States

Apr 3, 2020

KEG MSNBC 4.2.20


Last night, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand appeared on MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber to discuss the need for increased transparency on how the Trump Administration is allocating resources for disaster assistance requested by New York State. Below is a transcript of the interview:

Melber: I’m joined now by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. What else needs to be done for New York? 

Sen. Gillibrand: Well, I’m very concerned that FEMA is not actually giving relief to the states that need it the most. I wrote a letter today to President Trump urging him to review what FEMA has done because the truth is some states that don’t have great needs have received everything they have asked for or even more than they’ve asked for. New York needs to get the ventilators out of the national stockpile as well as the masks and other PPE that are still in the U.S. defense department stockpile.

Melber: There are a lot of different things to take from these press briefings we get at the White House, we have been monitoring certain aspects of them. I think it would be important to get your reaction to something that is not normal, not generally acceptable in any other administration, which was that the President handed off, at one point, today, to someone with no medical expertise or other prior government service history, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. I’m curious your reaction of his role now today in the virus briefings for the country. 

Sen. Gillibrand: I don’t think he’s either prepared or qualified to lead that operation. President Trump would do better to put experts in charge of this pandemic. President Trump, unfortunately, has made poor decisions from the very beginning. At first, minimizing the risk, and second denying the risk, and third not moving on the risk. He didn’t actually create the resources that would be necessary to deal with this epidemic. He should have allowed testing from January on and not required it to go through the CDC. He’s put us behind by months in preparation because of his unwillingness to act and unwillingness to lead. And so now, governors and mayors are doing their best to make up for his lost time. 

Melber: Senator, today we saw unemployment numbers absolutely surge. Last week were the highest on record. Four times higher just for viewers to remember, four times higher than the next highest number. This week, today’s new numbers, even higher than that. At a basic policy level, do you view what the Congress has now done, very expensive, trillions spent, as enough or is there more that you want to see done to address what’s looking like a recession or worse?   

Sen. Gillibrand: Well this package we just passed is not nearly enough. It’s just the next tranche of emergency funding to the places that need it most urgently, to the hospitals, to those people who are unemployed and have no way to put food on the table for their families, for states, for cities, for small businesses. This was just the next step in trying to deal with the urgent crisis we have in our states and our country. There will be another package, no doubt. Our governor and our state still have massive holes in their budgets that we need to begin to fill. That’s going to take even more investment in all states to even meet half of the requirements that these states have. So we have a long way to go and we can start by guaranteeing universal sick days for everybody, national paid leave for everybody, and making sure cities and states can stay above board. 

MelberAnd Senator finally, another story that got a lot of attention. The administration relieving a navy captain who had prior raised alarms about coronavirus, Brett Crozier. I have got some of the story. We’ll keep his rank and remain in the navy. The official reason was given a quote loss of trust and confidence. He was literally the person raising this alarm about the virus. Do you have a view of that development?

Sen. Gillibrand: Well, I don’t know all the details and the facts that the White House has, but I have concerns. This White House has not treated whistle-blowers well. He hasn’t treated anyone who stood up to say what’s happening or what needs to be done. We need truth-tellers right now. Unfortunately, President Trump continues to tell conspiracies and lies to the American people and continues to undermine the experts who are trying to deal with this unbelievable disaster throughout this country. We’re in the middle of an epidemic. We need truth-tellers and leaders. We need people who can admit the buck stops with them and that’s not what we’re seeing with this President. 

Melber: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand thank you. As always, appreciate it.   

Sen. Gillibrand: Thank you.