Why Rep. Andrew Garbarino Is Hopeful About New York's Future

New York Rep. Andrew Garbarino discusses his family’s small business background and his positive outlook for the future of both New York State and New York City.

Air Date: April 14, 2021

Moderator: Jack Howard, Senior Vice President for Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Andrew Garbarino, U.S. Representative, New York

The opening months for the 117th United States Congress have historically been some of the most eventful. In just four short months, this Congress oversaw a presidential transition, a major stimulus package, and a massive rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

One of this Congress's newest members is Andrew Garbarino, the U.S. Representative for New York's 2nd Congressional District. Garbarino serves parts of Suffolk and Nassau counties, including his hometown on the South Shore of Long Island. Representative Garbarino remains an advocate for small business; in fact, 90% of the employers he represents in his district consists of small business owners.

Here are four insights from the freshman senator on his background and what Congressional success looks like to him.

Garbarino Comes From a Family of Small Business Owners

Garbarino knows what New York’s small business owners need because he was raised by a family of entrepreneurs.

“In the ‘40s and ‘50, [my grandfather] had a grocery store … called Garbarino Brothers’ Grocery Store,” said Garbarino. “[The brothers] actually started all the way on the Western part of Long Island and in Brooklyn. As the family moved out, one son would stop and work at whatever business they started.”

“My grandfather worked very hard being a grocer and he was able to make sure that my father went to law school,” Garbarino continued. “[He] went to Fordham Law. He came home and started a law practice in downtown Sayville. … I went to Hofstra, came home, worked at the local family law practice, and then started my practice.”

COVID-19 Has Impacted Garbarino’s Ability to Interact With His New Peers

Garbarino got his start in the New York State legislature in Albany, where he grew relationships with his fellow constituents over time.

“Coming from the state legislature in Albany [for] eight years, we spent a lot of time on the floor, waiting to vote,” said Garbarino. “They would call us into session, we'd sit on the floor and we'd have…300 votes… You spent a lot of time talking to your fellow colleagues.”

Transitioning to the federal government during a pandemic, Garbarino has not found the same camaraderie.

“It's not the same here in Washington,” he said. “Everybody's in their own offices and you get called over for a vote. It's open for 30 to 45 minutes until another vote is called. So not everybody's over there at the same time [and] you don't get to meet anyone. That's been disappointing.”

Garbarino Believes People Will Return to New York City to Work Post-Pandemic

During the pandemic, New York City saw many residents leaving the metropolitan area and moving to quieter, suburban places that had more space. Now with the vaccines being distributed and offices returning to hybrid work settings, Garbarino believes people will come back to New York City.

“I think that people are going to end up going back to work in the city, probably on a hybrid level,” said Garbarino. “I think there will be a lot more people working from home maybe two days a week and then traveling into the city three days a week.”

Success for Garbarino Is Defined by Helping the People He Serves

“Being able to help people in the district with whatever issues they have… whether it be [getting] a vaccine or somebody with an SBA loan or anything,” said Garbarino. “If we can help somebody with something…that can make their life better, that's a success.”

“Specifically for Long Island, if we can get the SALT deduction back, that would be great for my constituents,” he added. “That really did hurt a lot of people just because of our high-income-tax rate in New York.”