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The FDNY condemned Mayor Bill de Blasio for suggesting there could be cuts to frontline workers in the near future if New York does not get funding in Congress' next round of coronavirus relief, accusing him of using first responders as a "political pawn."
"He's using us a political pawn to get back at [Sen. Mitch] McConnell or [President] Trump and get them to include New York in the stimulus package which I have no problem with," FDNY Firefighter's Association President Gerard Fitzgerald told Fox News on Wednesday. "Obviously New York is in need like everywhere else, but I don't think he needed to use the livelihoods of first responders as a political pawn."
Republican lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they are willing to let the states plummet into bankruptcy rather than provide another round of bailout relief to the regions hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
New York has sustained the most amount of casualties from the virus in the U.S., which has killed 25,231 people and infected 321,192 more in the state — and the economic effects have been crippling.
De Blasio — a Democrat — called Trump a "hypocrite" who "seems to enjoy stabbing his home town in the back," and said frontline workers would be among the economic casualties if New York doesn't receive a much-needed boost soon.
“How are we going to support these people who we need if we don't have any money? I've lost $7.4 billion already and my economy can't come back until I get that stimulus," the mayor said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Fitzgerald called the move "deplorable" and an attempt for de Blasio to grab the attention of lawmakers as pressure mounts to pass the next round of multibillion-dollar relief.
"In the middle of this pandemic, when we are the first link in the health care chain going out and putting ourselves in danger and putting our families in danger when we go home, the last thing we need is to be told that some of our members could lose their job somewhere down the line," Fitzgerald said.
"I think they're frustrated that we'd be used in that way. Because we are the best at what we do. because we are world-renowned, FDNY being the bravest and NYPD being the finest — everybody recognizes us, so Washington's no different," he added.
More than 2,000 FDNY firefighters have been diagnosed with the virus, and the union president said close to 700 of them are still out of commission.
De Blasio did not provide details on the state's proposed budget or immediate plans on cuts to frontline workers, which include firefighters, police officers and medical personnel.
"One of the key missions of the New York City government is to keep New York City residents safe. We are part of that — the police and the fire department — that's what we do. When it comes down to cutting that, you're messing with people's lives," Fitzgerald added.