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Queens Congress Members Want Assistance for Local Grocery Stores in Next Relief Bill

Grace Meng, Carolyn Maloney, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (U.S. House Office of Photography)

May 5, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Several Queens Congress Members want the next COVID-19 relief bill to include assistance for bodegas, ethnic grocery stores and small independent supermarkets.

Congresswoman Grace Meng announced Sunday that she wrote a letter— signed by 12 other New York Congress Members– to House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy urging them to help these businesses.

She estimates that there are around 13,000 of these small stores throughout New York City and that many have suffered financially as a result of the pandemic.

The lawmakers requested grants for refrigeration units – to help store fresh produce and offset increased utility costs – and new partnerships to be created between rural farms and small grocers in order to boost sales of local produce, meat and dairy.

The members want hazard payments to be given to frontline employees who work at these stores and federal income tax exemptions from their wages.

The letter, which was penned April 30, stated that community grocery stores are a lifeline to neighborhoods and often cater to specific cultural groups.

“Small grocers provide a unique access point to ensure that those who are food insecure can purchase healthy foods and fresh produce,” the letter reads.

“While major grocery chains are struggling to keep up with panic buying of toilet paper, paper towels, and other staples, New Yorkers are turning to their community stores for these critical supplies, “it continues.

Carolyn Maloney, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nydia Velázquez, Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks were among the Queens contingent of lawmakers who signed the letter.

Low-income New Yorkers who shop at these stores should also be given relief which in-turn would help these businesses, the group said.

Among these demands are increased funding of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and unemployment insurance being made available to qualified persons – regardless of their citizenship status.

The delegation also wants federal stimulus checks to be given retroactively to people without social security numbers who have individual taxpayer identification numbers, such as the undocumented. This group was left out when the $1,200 stimulus checks were sent out last month.

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Larry Penner

Diogenes is still searching for someone honest in Washington after passage of the most recent $484 billion Corona Virus relief bill. This is the fourth one passed by Congress and signed by the President in the past two months. They total $3 trillion in borrowed money. What about our federal $23 trillion long term debt projected to grow $1 trillion more annually until 2030? We just added another $3 trillion on top of that. Some want ever more! Who is going to bail out Washington? Only government can get away with maxing out its credit cards with no consequences. Sooner or later China and other creditors are going to call in the bill. You can’t continue spending money you don’t have forever.

All levels of government and the private sector must make difficult financial decisions on how to use existing resources. Americans prioritize their own family budgets. They make the difficult choices in how existing resources will be spent. If it can wait till later, it should be postponed.

Shouldn’t the President and Congress find the courage to offset some of these costs by reducing expenditures within the current $4.8 trillion budget? We must freeze future federal spending levels in coming years. This would provide a down payment in paying off this debt.

Every level of government, private sector businesses small and large along with millions of Americans out of work are looking for financial assistance. Yes this is not enough for some. Even before the first dollars are spent, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer want yet another $1 to $2 trillion stimulus on steroids packages.

The world’s favored currency is our dollar. This could end if Washington will not control annual increases in spending and debt. If things continue the way they are, don’t be surprised if by 2030 China surpasses us, and the yen becomes the worlds favored currency.. Our reign as the #1 super power will come to an end like all empires.

Larry Penner

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