New York Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs on Tuesday sought to defuse the increasingly heated debate among lawmakers in Albany over a proposed fund that would provide aid to undocumented workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers are considering whether to devote about $2 billion toward what is being called the excluded workers fund as the state budget negotiations continue to drag on.
The proposal has led to an uproar between some members of the Democratic conferences in the state Senate and Assembly, however, with accusations leveled against one another in closed-door meetings spilling into public view.
"Questioning certain provisions of the 'excluded worker' bill does NOT make someone a racist," Jacobs said in the statement. "If we, as a party and as a nation, can no longer debate issues like that without being subjected to ad hominem attacks that unfairly question one’s motives, then Donald Trump has truly won and we are no longer a democracy. We will have become the autocracy of the bullies that he spent four years trying to make America into. And, what a shame that will be."
And Jacobs, a Democratic Party leader on Long Island, pointed to the need of some lawmakers to first and foremost represent their districts.
"Every Democrat is united in the desire to see economic fairness, equity and equal justice under the law prevail in our society," he said. "Nonetheless, there will always be disagreements in our house over how much, how far and how fast we can go. For most elected Democrats, those differences are driven by the views of the constituencies they were elected to represent."
The budget is now six days late, and lawmakers are moving on Tuesday to begin passing legislation.