Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday said there are enough votes to approve the creation of an excluded workers fund in the state budget that would provide assistance to undocumented immigrants.
But the message was also wrapped in a tweet critical of Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a fellow Bronx Democrat like the speaker, amid an intraparty fight over the fate of the measure that has been among the more controversial measures holding up a finalized agreement for the state budget.
The negotiations over the fund have opened up fissures between progressive lawmakers and moderate suburban Democrats within the Legislature, where the party holds a supermajority in both the state Senate and the Assembly.
Rivera, the Bronx Democrat who leads the Senate Health Committee, knocked Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly who opposed the measure by name at a rally on Monday to push for the measure's passage. That, in turn, led to the unusual cross-chamber rebuke by Heastie.
"With all due respect Senator, the Assembly has had and will have the votes to pass an excluded workers fund bill that covers all workers," Heastie posted on Twitter. "Stop worrying about the Assembly and worry about your own house."
The fund is meant to shore up aid for workers not included in a year's worth of federal stimulus payments aiding those whose jobs were affected by the pandemic and would provide support to workers like undocumented immigrants as well as people who were incarcerated.
Aid for people in prison or jail at the time has been jettisoned from the talks, The New York Post first reported Monday night. The move shaves down the overall cost of the measure to about $2 billion.
Still, it's not clear if that is enough to move the measure forward.
Immigration issues in New York have been a politically tricky issue for moderate and upstate lawmakers. Democrats from swing districts have been attacked by Republicans in campaigns for measures that provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants as well as access to driver's licenses.
On the other end are lawmakers and advocates who have pointed to the broader failure of the federal government to act on immigration policy for a generation. At the same time, the pandemic has affected communities of color and low-income people disproportionately both health-wise and economically. Immigrant communities have not been immune, but have not received the same federal aid, advocates argue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday in a conference call with reporters insisted there was a "conceptual" agreement for the budget in place. But the fund debate remained a fundamental and heated disagreement for Democrats for much of Monday.