State Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, during Senate debate in March over a bill that would outlaw most abortions in Georgia. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

The Jolt: Jen Jordan to testify against federal anti-abortion bill

Yet another Democratic woman from Georgia is beating a path to Washington. At least for a day.

After finishing car pool duties, state Sen. Jen Jordan of Atlanta called this morning to confirm that she had been asked by Diane Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, to offer her testimony on a federal anti-abortion bill that would set a 20-week limit on a woman’s decision to end her pregnancy.

Jordan will appear at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Georgia currently has a state law barring abortions after 20-weeks, soon to be superseded by House Bill 481, which passed the Legislature and is expected to be signed by Gov. Brian Kemp this month.

The federal 20-week bill is authored by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who chairs the committee. Jordan said she will testify that the mortality rate for women giving birth has skyrocketed in Georgia since it adopted the 20-week law in 2012. “Georgia’s like looking into the future,” Jordan said.

You will remember Jordan, an Atlanta attorney, for the blistering speech against the “heartbeat” bill she delivered in the state Senate. On YouTube, the address has been viewed more than 17,000 times. T-shirts are already on the political market, bearing a closing line Jordan aimed at her GOP colleagues: “The women of this state will reclaim their rights – after they have claimed your seats.”

The attention has unnerved some Republicans. Over the weekend, one of your Insiders wrote a piece that broke down potential Democratic challengers to U.S. Sen. David Perdue. In the block on Jordan, we noted that when Duncan was rehearsing the presiding duties of being the lieutenant governor, a stand-in was assigned the task of portraying the senator and her aggressive style. From a Sunday evening Tweet by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan:

@ajc what’s the obsession with @senatorjen? Lots of talented senators in the @GAsenatedems that you never cover. Been waiting to use this for awhile...#fakenews #gapol

To which Liz Flowers, a Senate Democratic spokeswoman, replied:

I just took a quick look at #ajc coverage of some of our Senators in the past few weeks. EJones: 7x; NWilliams 5x; EParent 4x; SHenson 3x; SHarrell 3x. Arguments that the newspaper covers only @senatorjen are false. It’s super easy to Google stuff. GOP Obsession is different.

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Next Monday, April 15, will be the 10th anniversary of the first major tea party rally in Atlanta, which roiled the state Capitol and set the Republican agenda for the Obama years.

Several thousand gathered along Washington Street. Sean Hannity and Fox News provided the color commentary. One decade later, tea partyists will gather again, but this time on Liberty Plaza at the Capitol’s back door. Kick-off is at 4 p.m.

Next Monday’s rally might also be defined as the start of U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s 2020 re-election bid. The Republican is scheduled to be one of the speakers. Ralph Reed will be there, too.

The 2009 gathering saw the tea party in its ascendance. Ten years later, the tone is likely to be more defensive, judging from the list of recommended messages for signs that attendees are encouraged to bring with them:

Capitalism = Freedom

Socialism guarantees poverty.

Freedom promotes greatness!

Socialism Stinks!

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” - Thomas Sowell

Smartphones brought to you by free markets!

Socialism = Oppression

Socialism is Evil!

Socialism brings mass poverty, oppression, and tyranny!

“Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it.” - Ronald Reagan

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” - Margaret Thatcher

***

Up in Washington, time is running out for U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson. The two Georgia Republicans are racing to secure passage of a multi-billion-dollar aid package for victims of Hurricane Michael and other recent natural disasters before farmers plant their crops for 2019.

Many need extra help from Washington to settle their finances from 2018, which they must do in short order if they want to get new loans to plant this spring. 

Washington powerbrokers, however, are still at an impasse over Puerto Rico money. And the calendar is problematic. Lawmakers are about to disappear for the two-week Easter recess, and House is splitting town on Wednesday so Democrats can have a retreat. 

That leaves very little time for Perdue, Isakson and other allies to see a deal through before May. After it leaves on Thursday, the Senate doesn't reconvene until the 29th. 

*** 

Take this as a sign that the two sides are still talking past one another: House Democrats are preparing to advance their own version of the natural disaster package with additional money for Puerto Rico and the recent Midwestern floods. 

The legislation is essentially an expanded version of what the chamber passed along party lines during the January shutdown. And it’s all but DOA in the Senate because of the White House’s opposition to additional Puerto Rico funding. 

***

Georgians in D.C. are railing about the stasis surrounding the Hurricane Michael bill. U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, is frustrated enough that's he's floating the idea of creating a new bipartisan, bicameral panel that would help handle requests for emergency money after major storms. We’re still waiting to hear details, but the House GOP's No. 2 vote counter told our AJC colleague J. Scott Trubey that such a panel could help break through the political logjam.

It's certainly a long shot on Capitol Hill, where leaders are often skeptical of any changes that could cost them power, but many lawmakers might be open to the idea given how long it’s taken to deliver aid to areas of need. 

***

With the fight over a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport likely to resume in 2020 – it’s an election year, after all – it will be important for Atlanta City Hall to keep all noses as clean as possible.

With reliable witnesses, too.

Last week, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms named five members to a new ethics and transparency task force. According to Reporter Newspapers, one of them will be former state Rep. Joe Wilkinson, a Republican and 16-year veteran House member who represented Sandy Springs and parts of Buckhead.

While at the state Capitol, Wilkinson headed up the House Ethics Committee. He’s also quite close to Gov. Brian Kemp.

***

Casimir Pulaski was a Polish-born hero of the American Revolution, the father of U.S. cavalry. Across the country, several counties bear his name – in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia, according to Wikipedia.

Pulaski County, Ga., located south of Macon along I-75, may have the strongest claim to the revolutionary figure. There have been rumors that he filled an unmarked grave in Savannah, where he was mortally wounded in in 1779, or was buried at sea. Historians may have come across a reason for that uncertainty. From the New York Times:

New evidence suggests that although Pulaski identified and lived as a man, biologically, he did not fit into the binary definitions of male and female, a twist that helps explain why scientists could not previously identify his remains. The revelatory findings are detailed in a new documentary, “The General Was Female?,” which is showing on the Smithsonian Channel on Monday.

***

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur running for president, is bringing his long-shot campaign to Atlanta on April 18 with a stop near Piedmont Park. Yang launched his bid in February 2018 with support for a universal basic income that would be financed by new taxes. Find the details here.

***

Scott Johnson, a candidate for Georgia GOP chair, picked up the endorsement Friday from former U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey. He said Johnson “leads with the integrity we must have at the Georgia GOP.” Johnson is one of three candidates in the electoral contest, which will be settled next month in Savannah.

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