Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and 10 other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are urging Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., “to open an investigation and schedule hearings” with regard to whether Democrat governors infringed on the civil rights of elderly people by sending COVID-19-positive seniors into nursing homes, where many people died.
“Congressional oversight is needed to ensure the protection of seniors’ civil rights and to seek justice for seniors in long-term care facilities who lost their lives to COVID-19, given the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s recent announcement that it will not ‘open a CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act) investigation of any public nursing facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time.'” the senators wrote. “This decision not to pursue potential civil rights violations in states with high-profile Democrat governors raises serious concerns that the Biden administration is acting based on politics, not the law.”
The letter comes after President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice declined to investigate Democrat governors’ long-term care facility policies in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York that resulted in thousands of deaths. An investigation was originally opened during the Trump administration, in August 2020.
The letter focuses specifically on the leadership of outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.
Cuomo, who resigned this week following an explosive attorney general report on sexual harassment, has continued to be under the most pressure over his coronavirus handling. Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul, who will take over for Cuomo, vowed to be “fully transparent” on nursing home deaths after data showed the administration severely undercounted the fatalities.
Back in February, Senate Republicans also called for a probe into the nursing home scandal. The August letter is co-signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
“There is ample basis to investigate the nursing home response in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey, particularly in light of the billions of dollars that Congress appropriated for the COVID-19 response,” the senators also stated. “These four states pressured nursing homes to accept patients with active COVID-19 infections who were being discharged from hospitals at the height of the pandemic.”