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Sen. Gillibrand Says Trump And Capitol Mob Must Be Held Accountable; Seeks Energy Bill Relief

Scott Willis

Central New Yorkers will be watching with interest starting Tuesday as the impeachment trial of former President Trump gets underway in the Senate.  He’s being tried in connection to last month’s insurrection at the US Capitol building that resulted in five deaths.  New York Senator and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and minority leader Mitch McConnell reached agreement on the rules Monday. 

New York’s other senator Kirsten Gillibrand says anyone who played any role in the violence must be held responsible.

"The truth is we have to have accountability.  All those who committed the violence and the riots have to be brought to justice.   We need the impeachment process because I certainly believe President Trump incited this insurrection, and he should be held accountable for that.  The trial will be very simple.  It's one article of impeachment...incitement to insurrection.  We all witnessed it, so there's not a lof of facts that are unkown."

During a stop in Syracuse Monday, Gillibrand said if Trump is convicted, she’d be in favor of prohibiting him from holding elective office again. 

In other business, the senate and House late last week laid the groundwork for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.  Now committees in both chambers are drafting legislation.  Senator Gillibrand feels it will ultimately be bipartisan despite a deep divide in Congress. 

"Now is not the time for half measures.  The need in New York is so grave.  We have to get money to our mayors, our county executives, our governor.  We have to get money to our first responders, our hospitals, our schools, our food banks."

She says polls show 7 in 10 Americans favor the relief package, which indicates broad support among people of all political stripes.  The process of writing the legislation could take weeks.   


While in Syracuse, Gillibrand also called for more funding to help low-income Central New Yorkers who might be facing the perfect storm of lost income and higher heat bills.  Gillibrand is asking senate leaders for an additional $10 million in emergency supplemental funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

"We're asking for more than we would normally need because so many people have been laid off and don't have enough money to pay their heating bills.  We also are asking about $350 to $675 per family, which should go a long way toward meeting their needs.  Average families are spending about $2,700 dollars on heating per year.  That's a lot of money.  If we can shave some of that off, it helps enormously."

The increase would be on top of $900 million in dedicated emergency LIHEAP funding in the CARES Act.  Gillibrand says the extra funding will help meet the increased demand.

"So many children are remote learning, so that means they're home all day.  It means families have to heat their homes all day.  They can't turn it down during the day."

Walt Dixie agrees.  He's the executive director of Jubilee Homes, and hosted Gillibrand’s visit.  

"Folks today are staying at home, so therefore they're using more heat than they normally do during the wintertime.  So this bill is overdue."

The Senator says more families are being forced to choose between heat, food, prescriptions, and other essentials while trying to make ends meet. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at