Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.
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The Jolt: It’s still iffy, but Perdue is backing Scott’s push for HBCU scholarships

Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate want their version of a multi-billion dollar farm bill passed before the Fourth of July weekend, which means a quick vote today or Friday.

Meeting that schedule was made tougher Wednesday when U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent out this Twitter message:

I have decided to block the addition of any new amendments to #FarmBill until they either accept the Cruz amendment striking the use of taxpayer $ for promotions in #Cuba or they accept my amendment that prohibits taxpayer $ being spent at business owned by Cuban military.

Why is this important? As we told you last month, U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, was unsuccessful in getting $95 million in scholarship funds for 19 historically black colleges and universities into the farm bill recently passed by the U.S. House.

Scott has since been working with U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a member of the chamber’s agriculture committee. In committee, Perdue was able to insert language establishing the scholarship program, but -- as with the House version -- a funding mechanism was omitted.

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But just last night, Perdue’s office let us know that the Republican senator had filed an amendment to mandate funding for the five-year program.

Earlier this week, Scott told us that Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the ag committee, had assured him that her caucus was onboard, which means a handful of Republicans are still required.

But that presumes the HBCU amendment will get a floor vote. With time running out, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the ag committee, could wrap a limited number of amendments into a single package – and there is a chance that the HBCU amendment wouldn’t make the cut.

But Scott told us he has a fall-back strategy. Senate and House versions of the farm bill aren’t close to matching. A huge sticking point will the additional work requirements for food stamp recipients, backed by House Republicans.

Scott said he would ask House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., to be appointed to the conference committee that will hammer out the differences. “God is with us,” Scott said. “We wouldn’t have gotten this far if the Lord hadn’t opened the door.”

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Let the fence-mending continue. Since her dominating victory over Stacey Evans to win the Democratic nomination, Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor has been locking up support from high-profile party leaders who didn’t support her during the primary. Former Gov. Roy Barnes and ex-Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin are among the Democrats who will be hosting a fundraiser for Abrams over the weekend.

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When a body chooses to endorse a body, the things that he’s allowed to publicly bring to the table can be a bit restrictive.

On Wednesday, state Rep. John Carson, who represents northeast Cobb County and a slice of Cherokee, endorsed Brian Kemp in the Republican runoff for governor.

The bragging point Carson was allowed in the press release: “Leading the fight to expand school choice in Georgia the past two years.”

Not mentioned: Carson was the author of this year’s legislation to rip smart phones from the hands of Georgia drivers. The measure goes into effect on Sunday, July 1.

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s water wars decision this week, which will prolong Georgia’s decades-old legal battle with Florida, reminded us of a fight with another neighbor that heated up 10 years ago. 

Here’s the top of a story one of your Insiders wrote involving a pair of politicians who are now seeking higher office. From the 2008 story: 

COLE CITY HOLLOW, Tenn. — Nearly two centuries after a flawed survey placed Georgia’s northern line just short of the Tennessee River, some legislators are suddenly thirsting to set the record straight.

A historic drought has added urgency to Georgia’s generations-old claim that its territory ought to extend about a mile farther north than it does and reach into the Tennessee — a river with about 15 times greater flow than the one Atlanta depends on for its water.

‘‘It’s never too late to right a wrong,’’ said Georgia state Sen. David Shafer, whose bill would create a boundary line commission’’ that aims to resolve the dispute.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s reaction: ‘‘This is a joke, right?’’ 

Shafer, of course is in the thick of a runoff for lieutenant governor, and Bredesen is running for the U.S. Senate. Our favorite quote from the story, though, belongs to surveyor Bart Crattle, who acknowledged the border is wrong - but said it’s too late to do anything about it. Said Crattle:

‘‘Just because you have more accurate equipment, you can’t start moving border lines,’’ said Crattle, a Georgian who works in Chattanooga and is licensed to survey in both states. ‘‘Can you imagine what would happen to our boundary lines? They’d be all willy-nilly.

‘‘It’s correct — no matter how wrong it is.’’

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Speaking of the water wars, we wanted to highlight this detail from our piece yesterday about the Supreme Court’s ruling: $47 million. That’s how much Chris Riley, chief of staff to Gov. Nathan Deal, says the state has spent on water wars litigation over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin since his boss took office in 2011. That number will only keep growing.

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Georgia’s 10 Republican members of the U.S. House split yesterday on a “compromise” immigration bill their party leaders crafted with the goal of bringing conservatives and centrist Republicans on board. 

Four Georgia Republicans -- Karen Handel, Rob Woodall, Doug Collins and Austin Scott -- backed the plan, which would open up a path to citizenship for dreamers while building a border wall, beefing up border security and address the family separation crisis. But their support still wasn’t enough to back the effort, which was overwhelmingly rejected 121-301. 

The other local GOP lawmakers -- Buddy Carter, Drew Ferguson, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Rick Allen and Tom Graves -- rejected it, with some calling the proposal “amnesty.” 

Tensions ran high following the vote. Handel tweeted that the “status quo is unacceptable” and that “doing nothing perpetuates lawlessness at our border and results in de facto amnesty.” Others who rejected the plan said it was inadequate. "This is a bad bill that missed the mark," Carter said. "It is our responsibility to reform our broken immigration system and secure our border, but this is not the way to do it.” 

A more conservative proposal that would have offered dreamers legal status but not citizenship drew support from all but one Georgia Republican last week. 

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U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, plans to back Trump’s VA secretary nominee Robert Wilkie, according to the Washington Post.

But in remarks that opened the nomination hearing on Wednesday, Isakson first acknowledged an Air Force veteran who set himself ablaze outside Georgia’s state Capitol earlier this week to protest his treatment by the Veterans Administration. Said Isakson:

“I’m very proud of the response that was given to him almost instantaneously. The VA, in my conversation with them, were doing everything they could to ascertain everything that had led up to this incident, and everything that they had done and everything that could have been done, and I am satisfied with the information that I have to-date that their response has been thorough and complete.”

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