GOP congresswoman has big plans for spending relief money she's trying to block


Rep. Nicole Malliotakis doesn't support President Joe Biden's relief bill: 'The best relief package, quite frankly, is reopening our economy.'

A Republican congresswoman from New York is demanding that the state use billions from the not-yet-passed pandemic relief bill to avoid a bridge toll increase. But she has been fighting to defeat the very funds she wants to use.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a first-term lawmaker who represents New York's 11th Congressional District in New York City, tweeted on Thursday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was "about to vote on bridge toll increases including #Verrazzano today after receiving $8B in federal aid & expecting billions more from the $50B NY is set to receive. Some Nerve!

"I'm calling on @NYGovCuomo to use some of the funds to STOP this!" Malliotakis said.

The estimated $50 billion Malliotakis mentions is funding that New York would receive in state and local funds under President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief proposal. In announcing the plan, the White House said that the purpose of the funds — part of a $350 billion emergency aid provision — was to ensure state, local, and territorial governments "are in a position to keep front line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services."

Congress has not yet passed the relief funding that Malliotakis wants New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to spend on keeping tolls down, including those charged to cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn in her district.

In early February, the House and Senate voted, with no Republican support, in favor of a budget resolution that will advance Biden's plan and allow a future up-or-down vote on the package.

Malliotakis voted against moving the relief proposal forward.

On Jan. 15, she appeared on Fox Business and denounced Biden's plan.

"Now that the Democrats control of all levels of government, I'm sure it does have a chance of getting passed," Malliotakis told Fox's Maria Bartiromo. "Of course, people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won't be satisfied, they won't be satisfied until we have complete socialism, which means government control over our lives and a guaranteed minimum income to pay for that.

"We have to make sure that any relief package going forward is tailored. The best relief package, quite frankly, is reopening our economy," Malliotakis said. "I think the best thing that government can do is get out of the way and allow these businesses to reopen and get our economy back on track."

Many congressional Republicans have called the state and local aid in Biden's relief proposal a "wasteful" bailout to "failed politicians in liberal states like New York and Illinois," though their own constituents would also receive billions in emergency relief.

In an emailed statement, Malliotakis said: "I want to support it but am having difficulty. Not only is there still $1 trillion in unspent funds from the previous relief packages, but Congress is not putting in the time and energy to identify where funds are really needed to make sure the money is spent properly. I also want a commitment from Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that they won't raise tolls and taxes if they receive federal aid and will use a portion of the money to help small businesses they shut down."

Updated with a comment from Rep. Malliotakis.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.