The Jolt: Ga. progressives slam Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux on budget: #ComeOnCarolyn

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
05/05/2021 — Peachtree Corners, Georgia — US Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux makes remarks during a press conference about infrastructure at Jones Bridge Park in Peachtree Corners, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

05/05/2021 — Peachtree Corners, Georgia — US Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux makes remarks during a press conference about infrastructure at Jones Bridge Park in Peachtree Corners, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer /

When U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped her Gwinnett-based seat in 2020, her victory was one of the few bright spots in a punishing election for House Democrats, who ended the cycle just a four seats away from losing control of the chamber.

Now, though, the moderate is under fire from progressives for joining eight other centrists who have pledged to derail President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion social policy package unless a vote is first taken on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Maximum pressure is being applied just ahead of a key vote that’s scheduled for tonight in an effort to boost the chances for the larger package, which is a first step to funding universal pre-K, Medicare expansion, climate change efforts and more.

The attacks on Bourdeaux are coming from a group of left-leaning organizations that provided her campaign last year with crucial support at the ballot box and on the campaign trail.

The Asian American Advocacy Fund said withholding her support for the expansive reconciliation plan is tantamount to betrayal, while the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda tweeted the hashtag #ComeOnCarolyn.

Others critical of her stance include the New Georgia Project Action Fund and Nabilah Islam, who came in third-place in last year’s Democratic primary for the 7th District seat. Islam wrote that she was “appalled” by Bourdeaux’s stance.

“We did NOT vote for her to flip our district blue only to stand with Republicans,” she added.

They’ll have plenty of company. A coalition of progressive groups is planning to release an open letter this morning urging Bourdeaux to “vote yes in the interest of your constituents, particularly the Black and brown voters who secured your seat in Congress.” More than a dozen groups have signed on.

The pressure is only likely to grow as she and the other moderates will soon face an important test.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a procedural vote this evening that would advance three bills: 1) the budget resolution that will provide the framework for the social services spending; 2) the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill and 3) the revised voting legislation named after the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

Much is at stake for the centrist holdouts. If even a handful of the group’s members side with the GOP, it could tank the procedural vote and delay all three measures from moving forward.

The question they now face is whether they believe so strongly that the infrastructure bill must be signed into law quickly that they are willing to also hold up the other two proposals, which are popular among Democrats.

Under Pelosi’s timeline, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would reach a floor vote as soon as Tuesday. A vote on the infrastructure spending presumably won’t take place until after the Senate approves the social services package, likely in September.

Bourdeaux is navigating a tightrope. On one side, she is hoping to appeal to centrist voters in her toss-up district and improve her chances for re-election, even if its boundaries are redrawn to make it more competitive for Republicans.

And yet she also can’t alienate her Democratic base, or she risks inviting a primary challenge. That’s one reason why the criticism from Islam, who now runs a suite of PACs, caused a minor stir in Democratic circles.


U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux’s battle over the budget is making national headlines, too. Along with eight other centrists, the congresswoman penned an op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post titled, “Let’s take the win. Do infrastructure first.”

The group accuses fellow Democrats of holding the $1 trillion roads-and-bridges infrastructure deal “hostage” to the larger budget framework, which would open the door to pay for a massive progressive To-Do list, including free community college, a permanent expanded child tax credit, and climate change measures.

The Bourdeaux centrists call on House Democratic leadership and President Joe Biden to clear the path for the roads-and-bridges bill alone.

This infrastructure bill was crafted the way most of us imagine legislation should be developed: with a bipartisan group of legislators in the House and Senate working together, negotiating and finding common ground. That's what governing is about, and America is thirsty for it, especially after the past four years.

- Centrists Op-ed, The Washington Post

In response, the Post has an editorial of its own, with a photo of only Bourdeaux, calling the centrists strategy a “gambit” that’s “unlikely to work.” The Ed board continues:

Democratic infighting must not ruin what is a rare opportunity in Washington, a moment when substantial reform is possible. Instead of issuing ultimatums, the party that narrowly controls the House should get to work.

- The Editorial Board, The Washington Post


“Never underestimate the unifying power Stacey Abrams can bring to Republicans in Georgia.”

That sentiment from veteran GOP strategist Stephen Lawson in a weekend AJC story might as well be the prevailing GOP strategy against Abrams ahead of an expected rematch attempt against Gov. Brian Kemp next year.

Indeed, Abrams is on the tip of the tongue of GOP candidates up and down the ticket -- from “coroners to Kemp” -- as Republicans vilify her to energize their supporters, state Rep. Al Williams, a Midway Democrat and close Abrams ally, told one of your Insiders.

Williams, a board member of the Fair Fight Action group that Abrams founded, is also the subject of a recent Fox News story that invokes a 2007 interview in which he said that voter fraud is most likely to occur in mail-in ballots.

At the time, he was speaking out against a voter ID measure that Democrats and voting rights groups cast as an obstacle to the ballot box.


POSTED: A federal judge on Friday struck down a portion of Georgia’s new election law that prohibited taking pictures or recording of completed ballots, citing First Amendment concerns, the AJC’s Mark Niesse reports.

In the same decision, U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee also upheld other parts of the law contested in the suit, such as earlier deadlines to request an absentee ballot and restrictions on with whom election observers can communicate.


The City of Atlanta reached a grim milestone over the weekend, with the 100th homicide in the city posted for the year. That came hours before police responded to a triple murder in southwest Atlanta.

The AJC’s coverage from Alexis Stevens and Shaddi Abusaid includes a statement from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office, essentially blaming Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for not doing enough to stop Atlanta’s spike in violent crime. Bottoms has touted her anti-crime efforts in the past, including a program to install 10,000 new street lights.

From Kemp:

“It is also evident that more street lights, an office of violence prevention, shelving plans for a police and fire training center, and more committees to study crime aren’t the answers,” according to a statement from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office. “The mayor and City Hall need to empower and support APD — not make officers wary of being fired or publicly vilified for doing their jobs. These brave men and women deserve to know that elected leadership has their back.”

The mayor’s office did not respond to the AJC’s request for comment about the number of Atlanta homicides.


The Pentagon announced Sunday morning that the Biden administration has activated a rarely-used provision to compel American commercial airlines, including Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, to assist with the evacuations of U.S. citizens and allies from Afghanistan.

The Wall Street Journal reports the commercial aircraft won’t fly in and out of Kabul, the Afghan capital, but would ferry evacuees to the U.S. from bases in Germany, Qatar and Bahrain to ease transport bottlenecks.

More from the Journal:

Delta said it is scheduled to operate multiple flights to the U.S. starting Monday morning. The airline will stage aircraft at various military bases and said it plans to use spare planes, so its commercial operations won't be affected.

In discussions last week, airlines had offered to operate charter flights to support the air lift on a voluntary basis, industry officials said.

- The Wall Street Journal


Cook County Schools in southwest Georgia have joined the growing list of Georgia schools forced to stop classes in response to COVID-19.

WALB-TV reports that as of Friday, 43 Cook County school employees district-wide had tested positive for the virus, along with 202 students testing positive and 382 quarantined.

School will be out entirely for a week, when the system will return with a hybrid learning model.

Masks in the schools are not required, but strongly recommended.


If you read the print edition of New York Times’ Sunday Styles section, you saw the massive front-page treatment they gave Camden County, Ga., and the local battle over a proposed space port there.

The last stop on the way to the Cosmos? No thanks.”

County commissioners have been working for years to make the county a home base for commercial space flight departures, but the proposed take-off route would go over federally protected Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island.

The AJC has covered the ongoing effort extensively over the years, including the latest response from the National Park Service, which said the proposed route “poses an unacceptable risk” to the islands.


Ambassador to Tanzania nominee Michael Battle is the latest high-profile Biden administration appointee with Georgia ties.

Battle is the former president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He left Atlanta in 2009 to serve as U.S. ambassador to the African Union.


Members of the Atlanta Dream WNBA team made national headlines during the runoff elections after players donned “Vote Warnock” T-shirts in a rebuke of then-U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was the team’s co-owner.

The Dream is now under new ownership and Warnock is in the U.S. Senate. The senator sat courtside on Saturday and, at half-time, the team presented him with a custom “Warnock” jersey with the number “21,” for the year he was elected to the Senate.


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