After months of speculation, Amazon announced yesterday that it will divvy up its second headquarters between New York City and Northern Virginia. Strangely, both New York senators have been silent on the deal.
Just moments after the announcement, Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine blasted off statements welcoming the HQ2 headquarters to their state, touting the economic activity it would bring. “As a former Governor, now Senator, but also as a former technology executive, I’m really excited about the potential Amazon offers not only to Northern Virginia but the whole capital region and the entire Commonwealth,” Sen. Warner said.
“I’m thrilled that our skilled workforce helped persuade Amazon to bring a major new headquarters and its tens of thousands of jobs to Virginia,” Kaine said.
But New York’s two senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, haven’t said anything. They’ve released no public statements, and they declined to comment when reached by The Verge. The silence could be a sign that both senators are keeping a low profile as the more moderate and progressive factions of the Democratic party face off over the controversial Amazon deal.
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of the lawmakers who voiced their objection to an NYC headquarters, tweeting yesterday that “displacement is not community development. Investing in luxury condos is not the same thing as investing in people and families. Shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.”
We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
The community’s response? Outrage. https://t.co/Jl4OIfa4gC
The strongest indication of Schumer’s stance came at a press conference yesterday when NYC mayor Bill de Blasio said he had worked closely with Schumer on the deal, and the senator “believes it’s going to be a game changer for our city and our state.” Schumer has made no public statements to that effect.
At the same time, many New York state politicians have rallied to stop the headquarters from moving into Long Island City. This past week, state assembly members have penned disdainful op-eds, and once it was officially announced, many local politicians put out statements condemning the dealmaking process.
“Amazon is one of the richest companies in the world, but you can’t put a price on community input, which has been missing throughout this entire process,” speaker of the NYC Council, Corey Johnson, said in a statement. “I find that lack of engagement and the fact that the negotiations excluded the City Council — which is elected by New Yorkers to guide land use projects with communities in mind — extremely troubling.”
Representatives for Long Island City have been some of the most vocal about the deal. “We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones,” council member Jimmy Van Bramer and State Sen. Mike Gianaris said in a joint statement. “It is incumbent upon us to stand up on behalf of the people we represent and that is what we intend to do.”
“We’re essentially paying Amazon’s employees for them,” Gianaris told The Verge.