If it seems a bit breezy this morning, it’s because U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are breathing huge sighs of relief – now that President Donald Trump has caved on his opposition to a $900 billion COVID relief package that will also keep the federal government open through September.
Trump signed the mammoth $2.3 trillion spending bill late Sunday.
Early this morning, the Perdue campaign ragged on Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff for calling the $600 check that many Americans will receive “a joke.” Conveniently leaving out the fact that Trump called the amount a “disgrace.” The president made a last-minute demand for $2,000 checks. The White House statement, much of which was untrue, that attempted to explain the president’s retreat:
On Monday the House will vote to increase payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000. Therefore, a family of four would receive $5,200. Additionally, Congress has promised that Section 230, which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people, will be reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed.
Likewise, the House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election.
There has been no congressional promise to “terminate” Section 230, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not believe the election won by President-elect Joe Biden to be rigged.
But Trump is right that his call for expanded individual relief checks will live on as a campaign issue.
Today, House Democrats will push forward with an effort to create a rift between Republicans and the exiting president, by embracing Trump’s $2,000 idea. It’s very likely to pass in the House, but if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, Loeffler and Perdue will be spared that vote in the Senate.
However, they still might have to part ways with President Trump on one major issue.
Today, the U.S. House will also attempt to override the president’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. Every Georgia delegation member except Jody Hice voted in favor of the bill, which provides fundings to programs at military installations across Georgia and a 3% pay raise for troops. But the bill would also start the process of renaming Fort Gordon and Fort Benning in Georgia to remove the names of Confederate leaders.
The question for Republicans is do they keep their original vote and message it as supporting the troops -- or flip to a “no” to show their support for Trump.
The Senate override discussion could happen as early as Tuesday. Both Perdue and Loeffler voted in favor of the NDAA originally, but have been silent about whether they would support an override of the president’s veto.
One solution: Simply skip the vote.
A bit of wisdom from Jamie Dupree, who’s entered the D.C. newsletter business:
President Trump said Sunday that Senate leaders have agreed to ‘start the process' on repealing Section 230, dealing with social media companies. Translation? That tells me the White House knows the defense bill veto override will succeed in both the House and Senate, and this is a way to allow GOP Senators to support repeal, but also vote to override the veto. There is no way Congress is voting anytime soon to repeal §230.
President Trump announced Sunday that he would be headed to Georgia on Monday, Jan. 4 -- the day before final voting ends in Georgia’s two runoffs for the U.S. Senate.
Take it as a sign that Republicans are betting the farm on counting on a last-minute, in-person deluge of votes to offset the Democratic advantage with mail-in ballots.
The rally will be held in Dalton. Both the Perdue and Loeffler campaigns urged Trump to visit the north Georgia city next week for a reason: Dalton is in the middle of the 14th District, which lags behind every other congressional district in turnout.
There’s also a bit of history tied to the visit. It appears the last time Trump trekked to the carpet capital of the world was 1991, when he accompanied his future wife Marla Maples for a celebration in her honor at a homecoming football game between her alma mater, Northwest Whitfield, and Murray County.
You can watch the video here, complete with plenty of questions for Trump and his then-girlfriend about their relationship (they wed in 1993) and Maples’ upbringing in the Dalton area.
We’re told by a reliable source that a few weeks later, when Northwest Whitfield squared off against archrival Dalton High, fans of Dalton displayed a giant banner that said: “Ivana Says Go Big Red” — a nod to Trump’s ex-wife.
The Georgia Senate runoffs are now the two most expensive congressional elections in American political history, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Over the Christmas break, we brought you news of the record-shattering hauls from the four Senate candidates, who combined to raise more than $340 million over a two month span.
Add that to the gusher of outside spending devoted to the races for the grand total: The race between U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff has cost more than $439 million, while the contest between U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock has soared above $331 million.
That’s more than $770 million so far for both the races, the bulk of it spent on a relentless crush of TV ads that have amounted to $500 million in spending.
So far, the Democratic candidates have outspent their Republican rivals by about $75 million. But the GOP incumbents have a hefty advantage among outside groups. According to the transparency group’s tally, conservative groups have spent about $129 million more than liberal counterparts. Check out the full tally here.
He won’t be the only one: Trump-supporting Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones has signaled his intent to challenge Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger next year, ostensibly in a GOP primary.
He’ll have plenty of company. A number of Republicans are rumbling about a run against Raffensperger. Consider, for instance, David Shafer, the former state senator and current Georgia GOP chair. He has put the state part at the center of a number of legal challenges to Georgia’s election process.
Latino voters are an important bloc in both political parties, and the AJC’s Ernie Suggs is out with a deep dive on how that can impact the Senate runoffs. A key passage:
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are trying to get Latinos back to the polls by emphasizing COVID-19 relief and changes to immigration policy.
Republican U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are ripping pages out of the playbook of President Donald Trump — who saw a 10-point bump this year among Georgia Latinos — by pointing out the significance of a strong economy and their opponents' supposed embrace of socialism.
In what are expected to be tight races, Latinos could be the deciding factor, said Stephanie Lopez-Burgos, the Gwinnett County field director for the Working Families Party.
An interesting line in today’s New York Times profile of Democrat Jon Ossoff:
While he was at Georgetown, Mr. Ossoff sang in the campus a cappella group. Later he earned a pilot's license in his off hours.
And Politico.com tackles the strain that election officials throughout Georgia are under. This paragraph is particularly interesting:
Roughly a quarter of the state's counties received a grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, to which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan gave $350 million this year to close gaps in local election budgets. Trump allies tried unsuccessfully in several states to block those grants, which the center reopened for the runoff elections.
Center Square reports that a statistical analysis of the Nov. 3 election in Georgia showed no incidents of ballot harvesting, citing work by MITRE Corporation’s National Election Security Lab. The organization looked at the 38 addresses in Georgia where more than 20 absentee ballots were received.
Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution