Opinion: Elections have consequences

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., center, is joined by Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., left, and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., for a news conference to discuss the COVID-19 relief bill Thursday at the Capitol in Washington. The pivotal Georgia runoff election in January was decisive in handing Democrats the majority in the Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., center, is joined by Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., left, and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., for a news conference to discuss the COVID-19 relief bill Thursday at the Capitol in Washington. The pivotal Georgia runoff election in January was decisive in handing Democrats the majority in the Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

As a series of U.S. House committees voted this week on the details of a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, the main reason the quick aid effort from Democrats was even happening was because of Georgia voters.

“The people of Georgia are the ones who helped to make this robust relief possible,” said U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“We came here to deliver help for the people of Georgia,” said U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.

“These senators are history makers,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said Thursday as he held a joint news conference with Ossoff and Warnock at the U.S. Capitol on the aid package.

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Schumer is right. Without the victories of Ossoff and Warnock on Jan. 5, Democrats would have been powerless to force Senate Republicans to act on any bills related to the virus outbreak.

But now, Georgia voters have given Democrats — and President Joe Biden — the chance to move right away on COVID-19 relief.

“We can finish our work before the end of February,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

“There is not another minute to waste,” Warnock told reporters.

In committee after committee in recent days, Georgia Democrats made clear now is not the time for delay or small steps.

“At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, we are undertaking the very important work of delivering much needed COVID relief for our communities,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux , D-Suwanee.

“We must do what it takes to get the virus spread under control,” Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, said as he steered part of the COVID-19 package to approval in the Agriculture Committee.

“This bill gives President Biden a chance to do just that,” Scott added as Democrats eagerly plowed ahead on the relief measure.

“Democrats may have a narrow margin for victory in the Senate, but as we saw with swift passage of the budget, it’s just enough of a margin for Democrats to get things done,” said Jim Manley, a former top Senate Democratic aide.

Without control of the Senate, Georgia Republicans could only grit their teeth about the aftermath of their 2020 election losses.

“The bill before us amounts to nothing more than a left-wing wish list, conveniently disguised as COVID-19 relief,” grumbled Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans.

“How many jobs will this proposed $1.9 trillion legislation create — or lose — for the American people?” said Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point.

If either David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler had won in January, Allen and Ferguson would be able to count on GOP senators stopping this relief bill.

But Georgia voters instead paved the way for COVID-19 aid early in the Biden administration.

“To people who have lost faith in democracy, your vote matters,” Schumer declared. “It sure mattered in Georgia.”

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington since the Reagan administration. His column will appear weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com

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