The Jolt: Jon Ossoff avoids Biden bashing on Afghanistan

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Nope, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff isn’t going to join the handful of fellow Democrats critical of the process President Joe Biden followed to pull out troops from Afghanistan.

Instead, he mirrored most of his party’s top officials Monday by avoiding placing blame on the Biden administration and keeping his remarks trained on the unfolding humanitarian crisis as thousands of U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan allies attempt to flee the repressive Taliban regime.

“Well it’s clear that the U.S. government was surprised by the speed at which the Afghan central government collapsed,” he said Monday at the Aviation History & Technology Center at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

“Right now, what I’m focused on is supporting the State Department and the Department of Defense as they work with limited time to expedite the evacuation” of Americans and their allies.

He said his office has connected more than 2,000 requests for assistance with State Department officials through the email hotline his office created last week. As to the future of refugees fleeing the country, Ossoff said he was confident they can be resettled.

“I don’t think it will be a partisan issue. There’s overwhelming support among the American public for ensuring that those Afghans who served alongside our military personnel have the opportunity to evacuate. The vetting must be robust of those who will resettled in the United States. I think there’s broad bipartisan support for supporting our allies.”

Ossoff was in Marietta to talk about ways to boost Dobbins’ existing and future C-130 fleet through the Senate.


The U.S. House adjourned after midnight without taking a highly anticipated procedural vote that would have tied several large Democratic priorities together.

That anticipated vote would have advanced the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution. The budget would create a path for dozens of new, progressive-backed social programs like Medicare expansion, universal pre-K and climate change efforts.

The vote also would have been the first test of whether nine moderate Democrats, including Georgia’s Carolyn Bourdeaux, were committed to their plan to derail the Democrats’ social services package unless they could also get an immediate vote on their preferred infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate.

Without enough moderates’ votes in hand, Democrats were forced to push the vote to this afternoon.

A new plan calls for a vote to advance the budget deliberations without a second, separate vote that Bourdeaux and the others in the group of nine could also oppose.

As it stands now, the House will convene at noon for one hour of debate before taking that planned vote. But whether there are enough votes for it to pass is still unclear.

House leaders still expect to move forward today on the voting rights bill named for John Lewis, which would reinstate federal preclearance of changes to election laws in certain states and jurisdictions.

Democrats want to send that measure over to the Senate before they leave Washington for three weeks. Members have been told Tuesday would be the last working day before the break.


POSTED: In Senate campaign intrigue news, one of your Insiders scoops that Herschel Walker has apparently moved to Georgia and registered to vote in the state.

According to state records, the longtime Texan took the step on Aug. 17.


He listed his residence as the Buckhead home owned by his wife, Julie Blanchard, one of multiple properties he maintains in the state.

Walker has for months said he was considering running as a Republican to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, and the move comes as the highest-profile GOP candidate in the race has leveled criticism at Walker's out-of-state address.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who launched his campaign in June, recently mocked Walker for “pretending to change your car tags" and called on him to get off the sidelines and set stakes in Georgia if he was going to run.

“Move here, pay taxes here, register and vote in some elections and learn what Georgians have on their minds," said Black, one of three GOP candidates in the race.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It looks like Walker has taken Gary Black’s challenge.


U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Ted Cruz are getting all the glory, but the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports a 23-year-old Columbus law student may actually be the man behind the budding success of the proposed I-14 Interstate, which would connect Albany, Ga. to West Texas through Alabama, via Columbus.

The paper writes that Frank Lumpkin, IV, got the ball rolling on the long dormant idea when he was a 19-year-old college student and mentioned it to then-Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

He later worked to advance the measure in his spare time as an intern to U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson.

More from the paper:

Lumpkin already made contact with Sens. Warnock and Jon Ossoff shortly after their victories in early 2021 to talk about the project. As the infrastructure debate continued, Lumpkin and others began to hear that the House's bill wouldn't be the final version. Getting in the Senate bill became key.

“This isn't something we tried to throw in here at the last minute. This is something that we have bipartisan support on that we could get in the bill," Lumpkin said.

Warnock, along with Sen. Cruz (R-TX), proposed the I-14 amendment. It was approved by a voice vote with no objections.

- The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer


Atlanta mayoral candidate Sharon Gay’s campaign put $300,000 behind a debut ad meant to introduce her to the city’s voters. The ad is out today.


In endorsement news, Senate candidate Gary Black landed the support of 15 more Georgia sheriffs, including the top law enforcement officials from Bartow, Carroll and Columbia counties. That brings his total to 75 of Georgia’s 159 sheriffs.


The Stone Mountain Memorial Association is getting a new look.

The AJC’s Tyler Estep reports the group voted to change its logo and adopt a new one that does not include an homage to the mountain’s massive carving of Confederate leaders. The new branding features a distant view of the mountain, lake and greenery of the park, instead.

Changing the logo is the first of many changes anticipated for the state park, which has come under intense criticism for its ongoing use of Confederate flags and imagery, along with the 90-foot-tall carving of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.


With hospitals across the state overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, the state House Democratic Caucus released a statement Monday calling on Gov. Brian Kemp and the State Superintendent of Schools to do more to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Specifically, the caucus suggested Kemp mandate mask wearing in and out of schools, fund ventilation upgrades and distance learning in schools, and pay for statewide vaccine incentive programs for all eligible Georgians.

“The most powerful step the governor can take to prevent illness and deaths is to start being active rather than passive,” said these members of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus in a joint statement, adding, “In one word, lead.”

Last week, the governor signed an executive order allowing Georgia businesses to ignore local mask mandates where they’ve been put in place.


If you won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 for your friends and neighbors, maybe you’ll do it to see live music in Athens again.

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, the legendary Georgia Theater will now require proof of vaccination to attend any of the venue’s shows after Oct. 1. It joins the 40 Watt Club and several other bars and venues that have already announced similar policies for staff and patrons.

The state of Georgia’s vaccination rate remains below the national average at just over 40%.


Georgia’s Sea Island will be the site of one of the biggest meetings planned by the campaign arm for U.S. Senate Republicans, Punchbowl News is reporting.

Former Georgia Sen. David Perdue, who lives in Sea Island, is expecting to speak at the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s policy summit. Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker who once called Georgia home, is also on the agenda.

It’s not Sea Island’s first rodeo when it comes to hosting GOP big wigs. The private island hosted the G8 Summit in 2004 under President George W. Bush and was the destination for his parents, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, for their honeymoon.


The race for Atlanta mayor entered a new phase last week, when 14 candidates got in under the wire to officially qualify for the November ballot.

The AJC’s J.D. Capelouto and Wilborn P. Nobles III have the latest on qualifying, a staffer’s resignation, and one candidate saying another “has a problem with strong women leaders,” all in this week’s mayor’s race round-up, The Race for City Hall.


You can see the candidates for Atlanta mayor yourself tonight at a “Conversation with the Candidates” at Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta. The event is sponsored by the NAACP Atlanta Branch and the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Greater Atlanta.

All 14 qualified candidates have been invited and the event will be livestreamed, as well.


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