PG A.M.: Warnock, Ossoff rebuke Senate Republicans for blocking IVF bill

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., favored a bill that granted the right to access IVF services.

Credit: Ben Hendren for the AJC

Credit: Ben Hendren for the AJC

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., favored a bill that granted the right to access IVF services.

One day after Georgia Republican House Speaker Jon Burns promised to protect access to in vitro fertilization for women struggling with infertility, Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked a bill from Democrats to do just that.

The measure would have guaranteed the right to access IVF services, for providers to offer those services, and for insurance companies to cover IVF, regardless of state law. Republicans voted down a procedural move to start debate on the bill, 48 to 47.

Democrats introduced the bill after the Southern Baptist Convention voted earlier this week against IVF procedures.

Senate Republicans called the Democratic bill unnecessary “fear mongering,” but U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said families using IVF technology shouldn’t be part of a political debate at all.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks about the failed vote on an in vitro fertilization measure at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.

Credit: Eric Lee/The New York Times

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Credit: Eric Lee/The New York Times

“I think it’s important for people up here to remember that these are not academic debates, these are not political debates. It’s people’s lives that we are impacting. And for me, that’s something sacred,” he said.

The Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor said he frequently blesses babies on Sunday mornings and has never asked parents whether a child was conceived through IVF.

“For the life of me, I don’t understand how people who are ‘pro-family’ and want to see vibrant, strong growing families are opposed to making use of this technology to help people who want to be mommies and daddies to do that,” he said.

“You’re witnessing the tragic implications of politicians overstepping their bounds and making their way into the hospital rooms and bedrooms of ordinary people. And I don’t think that’s the society we want.”

Warnock and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., voted in favor of moving the bill forward. Ossoff said in a statement, “There is no place for politicians to restrict access to fertility treatment for my constituents in Georgia or for Americans across the country.”

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FREQUENT VISITOR. Vice President Kamala Harris returns to Atlanta today to again court Black Georgians, who are considered key voters to the Democratic electorate in this battleground state.

The visit to the 100 Black Men of America annual conference will be her fourth trip to Georgia this year and the first of two over the next five days. She’ll be back Tuesday to speak at hip-hop star Quavo’s conference on stopping gun violence.

Insider Greg Bluestein and AJC colleague Mirtha Donastorg have the details on Harris’ visits and how the spate of stops underscores the campaign’s concerns that former President Donald Trump is gaining traction among Black men, with recent polls showing Black voters’ support for Democrats drifting.

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U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, wanted a Confederate memorial reinstalled at Arlington National Cemetery. The House voted it down on Thursday.

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

LOST CAUSE. The U.S. House voted 230-192 on Thursday to defeat a plan from U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, to have the Pentagon bring back a Confederate memorial removed last year from Arlington National Cemetery.

Twenty-four Republicans broke ranks with Clyde, led by U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton. He was the only GOP lawmaker from a southern state who did not vote for Clyde’s amendment.

Clyde says the removal of the monument wrongly did away with a “reconciliation memorial” for the Civil War. The monument includes a depiction of a Black “Mammy” holding the child of a white southern soldier, a slave following his master into battle, and inscriptions touting the “Lost Cause.”

Of the 24 Republicans who voted against Clyde, five were from California, three were from New York, and three were from Iowa.

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BACK FOR MORE. The overriding goal of former President Donald Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday was GOP unity — and Trump seemed to secure that after meeting separately with House and Senate Republicans.

As our pal Jamie Dupree reported, Georgia Republicans came out of the meeting thrilled with what they heard from Trump, as he emphasized core GOP issues of border security and lower taxes.

“People are determined to win,” said U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-The Rock.

“The message overall was we’ve got to win in November,” added U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-St. Simons Island.

Trump also got some chuckles from GOP lawmakers as he mentioned U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to get rid of House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana. The former president light-heartedly asked if the Rome firebrand was “being nice” to the speaker. (The answer on Thursday was yes, as Greene was on her best behavior after Trump’s visit.)

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GREEN FOR GREEN. Two pro-Biden super PACs are rolling out a $9 million ad buy in Georgia to promote Democratic green energy initiatives.

Climate Power and Future Forward USA Action are loading the airwaves with spots that highlight the billions of dollars in green energy tax credits, subsidies and spending that passed over GOP objections.

It’s part of an overall $50 million nationwide ad buy that targets Georgia and five other battleground states.

Future Forward has fast become the top super PAC destination for wealthy donors boosting President Joe Biden’s reelection bid. Climate Power has spent tens of millions of dollars trumpeting Biden’s environmental policies.

The ads, which will run on an array of platforms, aim at a wide segment of the electorate. One targeting Black voters focuses on “climate justice” initiatives. Another features a farming family struggling with higher fuel prices.

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Former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan faces Brian Jack in a runoff election next week.

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

TRUMP CARD. In the final stretch of the runoff for Georgia’s most competitive U.S. House seat, former President Donald Trump aide Brian Jack is again relying on some of his biggest MAGA allies.

On Thursday, he drew hundreds to a trio of rallies with former presidential candidate Ben Carson — who hired Jack as a key aide during his short-lived White House bid in 2016.

The campaign is also emphasizing Jack’s local support ahead of Tuesday’s matchup with former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. Voters were reminded Jack has picked up endorsements from state Sen. Marty Harbin, a Tyrone Republican who represents a slice of the district, along with Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper.

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Caylee Noggle has received a new appointment from Gov. Brian Kemp.

Credit: Georgia House of Representatives

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Credit: Georgia House of Representatives

MEDICAID. Gov. Brian Kemp has tapped Caylee Noggle, a former aide who once led the Department of Community Health, to chair a new commission that could debate potential changes to the governor’s limited Medicaid expansion.

The nine-member Comprehensive Health Coverage Commission is charged with reviewing access to quality health care in Georgia, particularly among low-income and uninsured residents.

Kemp has repeatedly ruled out full Medicaid expansion and called for focus on his more limited program, which ties work and academic requirements to Medicaid eligibility.

As of March, the governor’s Pathways program had drawn about 3,800 uninsured applicants out of an estimated 370,000 who are eligible. It has cost taxpayers at least $26 million, with more than 90% going toward administrative and consulting costs.

Balancing the growing GOP support for full-scale Medicaid expansion with Kemp’s more limited approach is no easy task, but Noggle — who now heads the Georgia Hospital Association — is highly regarded in the industry.

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Gov. Brian Kemp (right) visited the demilitarized zone separating the Korean Peninsula on Thursday.

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

POLITICAL POLISH. Gov. Brian Kemp opened a 10-day visit to South Korea on Wednesday with a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, the strip of land that separates the country from North Korea, its often-hostile neighbor.

The stop underscores his broad mission in the trip. He’s there to do more than promote Georgia’s economic ties to South Korea’s corporate business, such as Hyundai Motor Group. His visit is also meant to burnish his foreign policy political résumé.

Insider Greg Bluestein unpacks what the trip means to Kemp’s future in an analysis piece that was published late Wednesday.

From the story:

If the term-limited governor decides to seek federal office — a challenge to U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff in 2026 or a presidential bid in 2028 — his allies hope his recent overseas visits to Israel, Davos, Switzerland, and South Korea can help round out a foreign-policy weak spot on his resume.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Lauren Groh-Wargo, the executive director of Fair Fight, is a guest today on the "Politically Georgia" show.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

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Credit: Alyssa Pointer/AJC

LISTEN UP. Today on “Politically Georgia,” Fair Fight executive director Lauren Groh-Wargo discusses what’s ahead for the voting rights group.

Among the group’s initiatives: A Let’s Freaking Go (Volunteer) recruitment project that launched today in partnership with Crooked Media’s Vote Save America and Power the Polls.

Listen live at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 or follow “Politically Georgia” on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you missed Thursday’s episode, CNN’s Kaitlin Collins detailed her interview with Nathan Wade, the former special prosecutor in the Fulton County election interference case against former President Donald Trump and his allies.

Also, author Ari Berman and University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock discussed Berman’s new book “Minority Rule.”

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THOMAS’ TRIPS. The details of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ vacation largesse continues to grow. U.S. Senate Democrats have released documents showing the Georgia native took several more trips paid for by conservative billionaire Harlan Crow than the judge previously acknowledged.

Our pal Jamie Dupree has the details in his Substack newsletter, Regular Order. The trips include travel by private jet between 2017 and 2021.

The reaction from lawmakers was predictable, with Democrats calling Thomas corrupt and demanding he resign while Republicans defended Thomas and said he is being demonized for political purposes.

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George Glezmann of Atlanta has been held prisoner in Afghanistan since December 2022.

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

RALLY FOR RELEASE. An Atlanta man held prisoner in Afghanistan for 18 months drew the attention of congressional lawmakers this week. George Glezmann, a Delta Air Lines mechanic, was detained by Taliban officials during a visit in December 2022.

Glezmann’s plight and that of other detained Americans were detailed in a U.S. House panel hearing Thursday. Glezmann’s family is pushing the State Department to negotiate his release. U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both Atlanta Democrats, as well as other members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, have supported the family’s efforts.

The AJC’s Jamie Dupree and Michelle Baruchman have more on Glezmann and other detainees in a story published this morning.

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TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden meets with international heads of state, including Pope Francis, in Brindisi, Italy, as a part of the G7 Summit.
  • The House is on recess until June 25.
  • The Senate is done for the week and returns Monday.

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SEERSUCKERS. Speaking of the U.S. Senate, the upper chamber marked its annual Seersucker Day on Thursday, with senators and staff alike wearing their savviest Southern stripes.

Hundreds turned out in blue, red and tan variations of the summer suiting for the popular yet polarizing Washington fashion moment.

It wasn’t a competition, but if it were, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s office might have won. Not only did one staff member find a rare two-tone pair of pants to show off, but Warnock donned a tailored version with turquoise socks that featured his children’s photos for extra flair.

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President George W. Bush (far right in suit) was among the world leaders at the G-8 Summit on Sea Island in 2004.

Credit: Laurent Rebours/AP

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Credit: Laurent Rebours/AP

G-8 ANNIVERSARY. Today marks 20 years since the leaders of the world’s eight largest industrialized democracies met on Sea Island for the G-8 political summit.

Attending the meetings were then-President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Brunswick News’ Michael Hall has a retrospective on the summit, which featured an understandably heavy security presence in the Golden Isles. The media center for the G8 was up the coast at the Savannah Convention Center.

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AS ALWAYS, Politically Georgia readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com.