What’s News, Breaking: Friday, June 2, 2023
BROOKLYN COLLEGE GRADUATES 3,809 STUDENTS;
VALEDICTORIAN PROCEEDS TO MEDICAL SCHOOL
FLATBUSH/MIDWOOD — Brooklyn College graduated 3,809 students at their 98th Commencement. The valedictorian of the Class of 2023 was Chaim Janani, who received his bachelor’s degree in honors for chemistry. Janani congratulated his fellow graduates and credited his academic success to the support and mentorship he received at Brooklyn College, which helped him to fulfill his dream of becoming a physician. This fall, he will begin medical school in the fall at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.
The class salutatorian, Lisa Leopold-Chaparro, a Guttman Transfer Scholar and co-teacher at a private preschool outside Brooklyn, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood. Leopold-Chaparro will continue her studies at Brooklyn College’s early childhood education graduate program, with a goal of working with at-risk students in public schools.
Officially, Brooklyn College conferred 2,871 students who have received baccalaureate degrees, 850 who earned master’s degrees, and 88 students who will receive advanced certificates.
BROOKLYN COLLEGE HONORS KEYNOTER TANIA LEÓN
WITH DEGREE — AND A CHAIR OF MUSIC
FLATBUSH/MIDWOOD — Pulitzer and Kennedy Center award-winner Tania León served as the keynote speaker and was given an honorary degree at Brooklyn College’s 98th annual Commencement on Friday, June 2, held at Barclays Center.
The themes of mentorship and giving back to the community were center stage at the ceremony. Tania León, a Brooklyn College Professor Emerita, taught there for 35 years and served as director of music composition at the school’s Conservatory of Music until her 2019 retirement. She is the first faculty member in any of the City University of New York (CUNY) schools to receive the prestigious Kennedy Center award. Moreover, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her work “Stride” in 2021.
After León’s commencement speech, Brooklyn College Foundation Trustee Leonard Tow ’50, founder and chairman of The Tow Foundation, surprised the audience by announcing that the foundation would be providing support toward the establishment of the Tania León Chair of Music — which will be the first-ever named chair in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College.
“The Tania León Chair will forever recognize and honor your unmatched legacy at Brooklyn College and in the larger world,” Tow said.
The community also surprised Leonard Tow in turn, with a birthday cake, presented to him in his seat at the Barclays Center auditorium, with Joe Damon Chappel, M.M. ’23, singer from the Brooklyn College Brass Ensemble, leading the song.
NY ATTORNEY GENERAL GIVES SUPPORT TO ELDER PAROLE BILL
STATEWIDE — The Elder Parole Bill, which is currently in committee in both houses of the New York State legislature, received support from New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday, June 2. This bill, whose chief sponsor is State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, would allow older adults who have already served long sentences to be considered by the Parole Board, on a case-by-case basis, for release to parole supervision.
Brooklyn delegation state lawmakers co-sponsoring the Elder Parole Bill include State Senator Jabari Brisport (D-25/Navy Yard to Brownsville) and Assemblymembers Robert Carroll (D-44/Prospect Hts. to Kensington) and Maritza Davila (D-53/Eastern Brooklyn) The bill would not guarantee anyone’s release, but it would provide hope by providing people an opportunity to appear before the Board.
More than a dozen of the state’s leading crime victim and survivor advocates and anti-violence advocates are calling for passage of the Elder Parole and Fair & Timely Parole bills, along with Fair Access to Victim Compensation, including: Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
Attorney General James, sharing on social media a Spectrum News article on Elder Parole gaining majority Senate co-sponsorship, said, “The Elder Parole bill will help create a pathway for people to re-enter our society and be reunited with their families. When people transform their lives, they deserve an opportunity for redemption.”
NYPD: ETHNIC HATE CRIMES, PARTICULARLY AGAINST ASIANS,
SEE PRONOUNCED INCREASE
CITYWIDE — Ethnic hate crimes around the city tripled during May, according to the an NYPD crime statistics report, although no analysis was provided on the increase. According to a chart provided in the report, crimes against Asians in particular increased by 160%, from five incidents in 2022 to 13 in the first five months of this year.
By contrast, reported hate crimes against Hispanics and religiously-based hate crimes against Jews and Muslims also decreased significantly, as did such based on sexual orientation.
Gender crimes — although not specified whether being against transgendered persons in particular — also rose by 150% last month, with five more incidents this year than in May 2022.
Earlier this week, a man was sentenced to prison time and probation for a hate crime last December against a Jewish man in Bay Ridge, with City Councilmember Inna Vernikov (R-48) advocating for the victim in this case.
NYPD REPORTS OVERALL CRIME DECREASE,
EXCEPT FOR VEHICLE THEFTS
CITYWIDE — Grand Larceny auto theft rose during May, but shootings, subway crimes and retail theft have declined significantly, and police broke the arrest record for any May in almost a quarter century, according to the latest monthly reports from the NYPD.
The report indicates that New York City saw a 26.5% drop in shooting incidents compared to May 2022 (86 v. 117). During May 2023 the decrease in shootings extends the 25.8% decrease in shooting incidents citywide through the first five months of this year compared to the same period a year ago (379 v. 511) — meaning 154 fewer people have been shot this year compared to last year. Homicides also fell by 33.3% (32 v. 48) last month.
Robberies and muggings in the city’s subway system decreased by 30.9% (38 v. 55) in May, reflecting a 13.1% overall drop in major transit crime.
The city saw a decrease in burglaries of both residences and commercial establishments, as well as a smaller reduction (down 6.4%) from the previous month in retail theft — otherwise known as shoplifting.
During May, NYPD officers made 4,599 arrests in the seven major crime categories, a 13.7% increase compared to the number of such arrests in the same period last year. NYPD officers have made 21,406 such arrests — during the first five months of 2023 — a 24-year high.
However, the report did not mention a recent violent trend of unprovoked punchings, where the assailant stakes out a stranger, engaging him or her in a dispute and then hitting the victim in the face.
‘BROOKLYN IS…’ OPENING THIS FALL
AIMS TO BE EXHIBIT OF THE PEOPLE
BOROUGHWIDE — The Center for Brooklyn History (CBH) at Brooklyn Public Library invites residents and visitors alike to contribute their unique voices and experiences to the upcoming exhibition, “Brooklyn Is…,” scheduled to open this fall. “Brooklyn Is…” seeks to capture the essence of Brooklyn through the eyes and voices of its people.
The exhibition’s goal is to create a collective portrait of the borough by incorporating photographs, memories, and impressions, shared from Brooklyn’s many communities. Individuals are encouraged to contribute by sharing a word, memory, impression, or by uploading a photo that captures their personal connection to Brooklyn. Contributions can be made through the online form available on the Brooklyn Public Library website. In addition, library branches across the borough are available to assist with scanning materials for those who prefer in-person assistance and support. Submissions will be accepted throughout the run of the exhibition, ensuring that a diverse range of voices and perspectives are incorporated. The contributions will be projected on a 30’ x 6’ wall in the exhibition, ensuring into the exhibition.
SUNY AND CUNY LAUNCH ENROLLMENT AND
FINANCIAL AID OUTREACH TO HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
STATEWIDE — Aiming to facilitate a college education for New York high school seniors, Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday, June 1, announced a new outreach program with the state and New York City public university system. As part of her 2023 State of the State agenda to eliminate barriers to higher education, the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) are reaching out to high school seniors in new ways with personalized letters, enrollment coaching and tutorials, and multiple points of contact to assist with enrolling in college and applying for financial aid. CUNY in particular also announced its plans earlier this month and for the first time this coming fall, CUNY is partnering with the New York City Public Schools to send personalized letters welcoming them to CUNY to 65,000 seniors who are on pace to graduate. The letters will lay out their college options at CUNY and invite them to submit a CUNY application.
SUNY and CUNY are also helping students with their financial aid questions through tutorials and multiple points of contact. The two public university systems have found demonstrated success in their personalized letter campaign in helping students decide to enroll.
Just last week, on May 24, Gov. Hochul opened the application period for the state’s Excelsior Scholarship Program, The Excelsior Scholarship, which allows eligible full-time students whose families’ federal adjusted gross incomes are $125,000 or under to attend a CUNY or SUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free. The application deadline is August 31 for this scholarship program.
GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCES $1.2M FOR CATHOLIC CHARITIES
WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday announced that she had secured $21,783,200 in federal funding for Head Start programs in New York state, including $1.2 million for the Brooklyn programming of Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Head Start programs ensure that low-income children from birth to age five have access to comprehensive child development programs, as well as support services for their families. These programs primarily serve pregnant women, infants, and toddlers and offer early education and social services; nutrition, preventative, social and emotional health services; and services for children with disabilities. Catholic Charities offers services through a child’s first year of life, then enrollment priority for free childcare at its Prospect Lefferts Gardens family center.
“Head Start programs ensure that young children are equipped with the resources they need to be set up for success later in life,” said Gillibrand in a press statement. “This federal funding will help ensure that young children and their families have access to high-quality early childhood education and support services.”
MTA ANNOUNCES F TRAIN SERVICE CHANGES
The MTA on Thursday announced that weekend F train service in southern Brooklyn will terminate at Church Avenue beginning June 2 and continue at intervals through the end of 2023 due to its Culver Line Signal Modernization project, which will fully replace track signals from Church Avenue to West 8th Street, to improve reliability and resilience. During the repair work, weekend F trains will only operate between Jamaica-179 Street and Church Avenue.
Customers are advised to take nearby D, N and Q trains and local buses for service to closed stations and points north during the first two weekends of the project, from June 2 to June 5 and from June 9 to June 12; then beginning on June 16, free shuttle buses will offer service to the closed stations between Church Avenue and the Coney Island terminus. These changes will be in effect on weekend dates between June 2 and July 10, between Aug. 4 and Sept. 11 and between Nov. 10 and Jan. 1; service will also be disrupted on the weekend of Oct. 21 and Oct. 23, when the free shuttle buses will operate between Kings Highway and Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.
All dates are subject to change; for more detailed information about service changes, the MTA advises riders to check its new information website, new.mta.info, or to download its MYmta smartphone app.
AIRBNB AND HOSTS SUE CITY OVER LAW THEY SAY
WILL SINK SHORT-TERM RENTALS
CITYWIDE — Airbnb, the online platform for short-term rentals popular with vacationers visiting New York, is suing the City of New York over Local Law 18, taking effect in July, reports Gothamist.
Local Law 18 requires short-term rental properties to be registered with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, a rule that Airbnb and the hosts complain will threaten to “all but eliminate” the market for home-based vacation stays in the city. The law stems from a bill that City Council passed in 2022 mandating that hosts planning to rent out their property in the city for less than 30 days must fulfill special requirements that include registering with the city and clearing all existing building violations, even if they don’t own the entire building.
More than 60% of the city’s 12,000 Airbnb regular listings are full homes or apartments, many of which will be blocked from registering under the new rules, and in many cases were already illegal under New York state’s multiple dwelling law, which prohibits hosts from renting out their homes when they are absent. Moreover, Many co-op apartment boards prohibit their shareholders from offering short rentals of their apartments.
STANLEY ENGERMAN, 87, CHALLENGED PREVAILING VIEWS
OF SLAVERY, USING DATA ANALYSIS
BROOKLYN AND WATERTOWN, MA — Brooklyn-born Stanley Engerman, who challenged commonly held views on American slavery, and who battled cancer, has died at age 87, reports New York Times obituary writer Richard Sandomir.
Engerman, with Professor Robert W. Fogel, both teaching at the University of Rochester, co-authored “Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery” in 1974 to both acclaim and harsh criticism. Using data analysis (a method which ignited this criticism) Engerman and Fogel challenged the prevailing attitude that slavery was unprofitable, inefficient and pervasively abusive; instead, “Slave agriculture was not inefficient compared with free agriculture… Economies of large-scale operation, effective management and intensive utilization of labor made Southern slave agriculture 35% more efficient than the Northern system of family farming.” Moreover Engerman and Fogel asserted that the slave, rather than being “lazy, inept and unproductive” was actually harder working and more efficient than his white counterpart.”
Engerman, who in his later years resided in Watertown, Massachusetts, and Fogel acknowledged, in a 1989 edition of their book, that they could have denounced the institution of slavery in much stronger terms — as a “new moral indictment of slavery.”
NYU TANDON TEAM DEVELOPS ELECTRIC PILL TO REGULATE APPETITE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — An electric pill named FLASH may be able to regulate one’s appetite without drugs or surgery, in a breakthrough study that Khalil Ramadi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at NYU Tandon, has led.
Dr. Ramadi, who is also Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Neuroengineering and Translational Medicine at NYU Abu Dhabi, focuses his research on “developing non-invasive technologies for neuromodulation, towards more effective therapies for neurological, endocrine, and immune disorders,” according to his biography. Dr. Ramadi and his team of researchers at both NYU and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed FLASH, which once swallowed, delivers electrical impulses to the stomach lining, in a targeted stimulation that triggers the brain to modulate gut hormones related to hunger.
FLASH is considered a promising breakthrough in treating medical conditions — including eating disorders, where the regulation of a patient’s appetite and food intake is essential. The pill stimulates nerves along the brain-gut axis, the complex physiological web of connections between mind and stomach, and modulates the hormones that determine when one is satiated.
The team’s study, published in Science Robotics, points out that FLASH could also be used to stimulate abnormally low appetites.
“FLASH is the first ingestible electronic device shown to engage with the gut to modulate hormones that regulate brain activity on the gut-brain axis,” Ramadi said. “By using the nervous system to alter the release of certain gut hormones, FLASH can potentially treat a host of disorders related to metabolism and eating without pharmaceuticals or surgery. This is a big step forward in how we approach these diseases.”
STUDY ON HORMONAL IMBALANCES COULD OPEN UP NEW MEDICAL TREATMENTS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Another NYU Tandon School of Engineering professor has done a study on hormonal balances and their relation to appetite satiety and obesity. Dr. Rose T. Faghih, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at NYU Tandon, and her research team of scientists from the University of Houston, the Louis Bolk Institute, and the Weill Institute for Neurosciences studied the neuroendocrine hormones, leptin and cortisol (a stress hormone), which act in concert to maintain the body’s homeostasis, a stable equilibrium between interdependent physiological functions. The researchers discovered that increases in cortisol are inversely related, with reduced leptin levels resulting in a decreased level of knowing when one is satiated, which in turn leads to obesity.
The team’s findings could prove crucial to formulating the next generation of agile closed-loop medical systems related to obesity that would identify deviations from homeostasis and recommend necessary medical intervention options.
While the findings went on Centers for Disease Control obesity statistics for 2017-2018, the CDC’s own website showed that for 2021, the most recent year available, national rates were at 33%, whereas New York is slightly below that average, at 29%.
ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON CONTINUES FIGHT AGAINST PROPOSED KINGS HIGHWAY SHELTER
GRAVESEND — Assemblymember William Colton (D-47), in his ongoing fight against the proposed homeless shelter at 137 Kings Highway, is convening a press conference on Sunday afternoon in front of the site in Gravesend, one of the neighborhoods he represents.
Joining Assemblymember Colton will be community leaders and organizations to demand that the city administration “stop wasting money on developers through a web of third parties, LLCs, and companies that ultimately pass the cost on to taxpayers, and demand also that, instead of temporary housing, NYC build meaningful permanent affordable housing.
Colton, who has fought this shelter since 2021 according to his office’s quarterly newsletters, emphasized that he does not oppose homeless persons, only the process of assigning real estate bids, particularly the lack of transparency provided to the public.
BROOKLYN DIOCESE WILL ORDAIN FOUR PRIESTS WITH WIDE RANGE OF VOCATIONS
MILL BASIN AND PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Four men who were born in different parts of the world but discerned a path to Brooklyn will be ordained on Saturday, June 3, at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights. The Most Reverend Robert Brennan, Bishop of Brooklyn, will ordain them as priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn during a Mass of Ordination.
The ordinands, who bring to their ministries backgrounds in sign language interpretation, mechanical engineering, culinary arts and entrepreneurship, are Samuel Mwiwawi a native of Kenya who is currently serving his transitional diaconate year at St. Bernard parish in Mill Basin; Rev. Mr. Nnamdi Eusebius Eze, a native of Nigeria and mechanical engineer who has been serving at Our Lady of Grace parish in Queens; Ernesto Alonso, a chef with an associate’s degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts; and Thimote Cherelus born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and a business entrepreneur serving his diaconate year in Jackson Heights.
Fr. Samuel Mwiwawi, who is a hearing person fluent in American Sign Language, has used this skill to teach the Gospel to the hearing-impaired among his community. Upon his arrival to the United States, he joined the Dominican Missionaries for the Apostolates of the Deaf and Disabled, who in turn recommended him to Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens to help interpret sign language for those whom the agency serves.
The 11 a.m. ordination Mass will air live on NET-TV, the cable channel of the Diocese of Brooklyn (Spectrum channel 97; Optimum channel 30; and on FiOS Channel 548). The Mass will also be live-streamed at netny.tv/watch-now.
ATTORNEYS SENTENCED FOR IMMIGRATION FRAUD SCHEME
BRIGHTON BEACH — A husband-and-wife team of immigration lawyers, Ilona Dzhamgarova, 46, and Arthur Arcadian, 44, were sentenced on Wednesday in federal court for their roles in an immigration fraud scheme, Dzhamgarova getting two years in prison and Arcadian getting six months. According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York, Dzhamgarova between November 2018 and December 2021 ran a Brighton Beach immigration services firm, catering to clients from Russia and other ex-Soviet countries seeking legal status in the U.S. The firm advised clients on qualifying for asylum, even if those clients were not legitimately eligible; the attorneys were prepared to break the law to deliver results, training clients on how to lie to interviewers and knowingly submitting faked applications. Affidavits generated by the firm’s writers — statements that are supposed to contain an applicant’s personal history and the basis for their asylum claims — were filled with falsehoods, including events and incidents of alleged persecution that were wholly fabricated.
Dzhamgarova personally advised her clients to claim persecution based on membership in the LGBTQ community, knowing that they were not members of that community and suffered no such persecution. Additionally, she and Arcadian prepared and submitted fraudulent asylum documents to immigration officials, fully understanding that these documents at times contained material falsehoods; and coached certain clients on how to lie in asylum interviews, representing these clients as they lied under oath.
The pair had previously pleaded guilty on Jan. 25 to immigration fraud conspiracy. Dzhamgarova was sentenced to two years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $540,000, and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine, and Arcadian was sentenced to two years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $1,500, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. A co-defendant, Igor Reznik, 41, a writer employed by the firm who assisted in the coaching and document fabrication, also previously pleaded guilty to immigration fraud conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 7.
HERO MTA WORKER AWARDED FOR SAVING MAN FROM TRACKS
SUNSET PARK — MTA Senior VP of Subways Demetrius Crichlow on Wednesday presented hero cleaner Angel Oquendo with a Certificate of Commendation for rescuing a customer in distress at the 25th Street R station. On Tuesday, May 30, Oquendo was cleaning glass along the southbound platform just before 8:30 a.m. when he heard a loud noise, turned around, and saw a man fallen on the tracks. He immediately ran over and reached down to pull the man up onto the platform, seconds before a train pulled into the station. Oquendo then asked a nearby individual to push an alert button to notify the station booth agent and the NYPD. The victim had fallen after being punched hard enough to knock him onto the tracks. The perpetrator boarded a southbound train to flee; a suspect, identified as Charles Williams, 27, was later arrested by police at the 36th Street R station. Williams, reported to be an emotionally disturbed homeless man, was transported to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation, and has now been charged with reckless endangerment and assault, according to CBS News.
This is not the first time Oquendo has been recognized for his heroism at the MTA. The 16-year NYC Transit veteran was honored last year by Governor Hochul and MTA head Janno Lieber for assisting customers to safety during the terrifying April 2022 subway shooting in Sunset Park that left ten people wounded. Oquendo was on the scene at the 36th Street and 25th Street stations as the shooting unfolded; he alerted booth agents and was among the first MTA employees to respond to the incident.
“I thought this would be a normal day, but I saw someone who needed help so I did it,” Oquendo said. “I would do it again if I had to.”
SPONSORS AGAIN PUSH FOR PASSAGE OF BILL PROTECTING FREELANCERS
BROOKLYN AND ALBANY — New York’s lawmakers, the Freelancers Union and the National Writers Union, rallied in Albany with labor leaders and independent workers on Thursday, June 1, to push for passage of the Freelance Isn’t Free Bill, which was vetoed at the end of last term.
State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-22) is co-sponsoring this term’s Freelance Isn’t Free bill along with Assemblymember Bronson. The statewide legislation, reintroduced this session, would require mandatory contracts, timely payment and protections from retaliation, and establishes penalties for violations of these rights to hold bad actors accountable, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs if a freelancer’s case goes to small claims court and wins.
Senator Andrew Gounardes said, “Whether they’re graphic designers or construction workers, freelancers need labor protections — it’s as simple as that. The number of freelancers across New York is only growing year by year, and so is the need to make our Freelance Isn’t Free bill law.”
New York in 2016 became the first state to create a Freelance Isn’t Free Bill, which was built upon a NYC law that then-Councilmember Brad Lander (now City Comptroller), representing the 39th District in Brooklyn, had introduced. The most recent version of this bill passed both houses of the New York State legislature in 2022, only to have Governor Kathy Hochul veto it. Other states, including Illinois, whose governor is about to sign its own version into law, have surged ahead in protecting its freelancers and contractor-status workers.
SEN. GOUNARDES LEADS PUSH TO PASS ‘NEW YORK FOR ALL’ ACT
ALBANY — Immigrant rights advocates & elected officials rallied on Thursday, June 1 in Albany to keep New York families together, and to pass the New York For All Act. The legislation prohibits local law enforcement and state agencies from colluding with federal immigration authorities and to prevent New Yorkers’ tax dollars from being used for cruel federal immigration enforcement. The bill also seeks to ensure that immigrants living their daily work and personal lives are not ripped from their families due to a patchwork of local policies that often differ on infractions of the law.
State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-26/western Brooklyn) is the primary sponsor of The New York for All Act, which has 32 co-sponsors in the State Senate and 57 co-sponsors in the Assembly.
“We have let state and city authorities collude with ICE and CBP for far too long,” said Sen. Gounardes. “We’ve seen the harm it causes: parents too afraid to go to parent-teacher conferences; workers too afraid to file necessary labor violations; families being split apart. We know it doesn’t work – and that we need New York For All now more than ever.”
BILL AIMS TO EXPAND SNAP BENEFITS TO INCLUDE HOT FOODS
STATEWIDE — SNAP recipients would be able to use their benefits for hot foods like rotisserie chickens, if a bill that Rep. Dan Goldman is sponsoring gets passed.
Reps. Dan Goldman (D-10) and Grace Meng (D-Queens) on Thursday, June 1 introduced the Hot Foods Act, to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) so that it allows participants to purchase hot foods such as prepared rotisserie chickens, hot sandwiches, and soups. In the current law, SNAP limits eligible purchases to foods for take-home preparation and consumption or cold prepared foods.
“Hot food options give families more immediate control over providing the most nutritious meal possible,” said Rep. Goldman. “Having greater flexibility in SNAP benefits also allows individuals with disabilities and the elderly the option to buy food that is already prepared, removing a significant burden on these vulnerable populations.”
Interestingly, there are exceptions to the current hot meal benefit exclusion: The USDA frequently grants emergency waivers to these restrictions during natural disasters. The Hot Food Act would permanently expand food choices and access for the more than 42 million SNAP participants, including children, the elderly, or those with disabilities, who comprise 70% of SNAP participants.
GOLDMAN RELEASES STATEMENT ON BUDGET ACT
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman on Wednesday issued a statement criticizing the agreement reached by Democratic leadership with Congressional Republicans in ongoing negotiations over the debt limit. Termed the Bipartisan Budget Act, the agreement passed the House on Wednesday, reports the New York Times, and contains several cuts to spending that progressives have condemned — most notably the expansion of work requirements for food stamps — while conservatives complained the slashes did not go deep enough. The president and his supporters have said that the compromises were necessary to avoid a default, which would have ruinous consequences for the country. The agreement will suspend the debt limit until 2025.
Along with colleagues on both the deep blue and deep red ends of the spectrum, Goldman voted against the bill, citing concerns about provisions that would weaken efforts against climate change, put spending caps on programs for families and vulnerable groups such as NYCHA residents and 9/11 first responders, and “favor wealthy tax cheats.”
He also harshly condemned the GOP, while offering measured praise to his own party: “I applaud President Biden and Democratic leadership for putting the American people over cynical politics… This hostage-taking by House Republicans sets a dangerous precedent for our country. House Republicans were willing to tank the American economy on the backs of the most vulnerable among us. President Biden and the Democratic Party are solely responsible for ensuring that we do not default on our debts, which would have led to much greater suffering than this bill will inflict. I urge the President to pursue alternative measures to address the debt ceiling in the future so that the American people are not subject to such an extortion again.”
The tactic of threatening to allow the U.S. to default on its debts in exchange for legislative concessions has been used by Republicans in Congress multiple times in recent years, most notably in 2011 and 2013; on both occasions, disaster was avoided and compromises were reached, but damage was done to the markets.
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