Last Wednesday, as Democrat President Joe Biden was being sworn in, newly elected congressman Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) watched the proceedings on seats spaced across the West Front lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
“Normally, there’s a lot of special guests and I would have been up on sta- dium seating on the platform,” he said. “I would get to give out special tickets, but that was all cancelled because of COVID.”
Was it his first inauguration?
“No,” he answered. “When I was in college, I attended George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2005. But I didn’t have a ticket then, I was on the mall.”
Unlike President Biden, who signed a series of executive orders, “once we were done with the inauguration, we were done for the day,” he said. “We had one vote on Thursday that was a waiver for President Biden’s Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. He was retired for four years instead of the required seven.” Austin was confirmed by the Senate on Friday.
Garbarino was one of 17 new Republican congressmen who sent a letter the morning of the inauguration to Biden, just before he took oath.
“It was about our willingness to work with the president where we can see similarities, where there are things that can be done,” he said. “Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne from Texas initiated it. People are fed up with nothing happening and everyone fighting. My personal belief is, you have to work together. You represent everybody and my job is to make everyone’s lives better. You had Republicans from all over sign this letter, including those who objected to the election, those who didn’t object, those who voted for impeachment, and those who didn’t. There were members from Florida and Alabama, New York, California and other states, from all walks of life. We wanted him to know that you have people willing to work for common ground to make sure things can get done. And the President did discuss his desire for unity.”
Garbarino said he disagreed with executive orders on both sides of the aisle. “There’s a reason for the legislature. But we’ll be voting soon, so hopefully we’ll have good legislation, especially on a COVID bill,” he said.
“We haven’t seen language on anything yet. I think the leadership and President’s staff are working on broad themes right now. The President came out with certain ideas on COVID, and financial support for people. The Senate is now split 50/50 and some people are leaving Congress for positions in the President’s administration. So it’s 219 Democrats with 212 Republicans in Congress. Everyone will be engaged in discussions.”
Former Rep. Peter King’s district office in Massapequa will be utilized as his base for now, but Garbarino said he’ll be looking to establish office hours in other locations.
One possibility is his Assembly office, now occupied by Garbarino’s former chief of staff, newly elected assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo.
“Donna Boyle [former Patchogue YMCA exec- utive director] is my district director, Lindsay Erizian is my special projects coordinator. She works for me part-time and full-time for Jarett. Today we did police appreciation luncheons and she’s working with vets on a Valentine’s Day program; we’re not fully staffed yet.”
Garbarino was wrapping up his law office in the family’s Sayville firm on Tuesday. He won’t be practicing now but wanted to get files in order for dad, Bill Garbarino, and revealed a personal anecdote.
“It was my dad’s 75th birthday Sunday,” he said.