The Jolt: Ossoff stars in, Greene skips the congressional baseball game

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) pitches during the Congressional baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on September 29th, 2021.

Credit: Nathan Posner

Credit: Nathan Posner

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) pitches during the Congressional baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on September 29th, 2021.

There are serious issues on the table in Capitol Hill and the threat of a government shutdown at midnight, and we’ll get to all of that later in today’s Jolt. But Wednesday night, dozens of members of Congress came together for some fun in the name of America’s pastime and charity.

The Republicans beat the Democrats 13-12 before a crowd of over 14,000, breaking a losing streak that dates back to 2017′s Congressional Baseball Game. But two of the three Georgia lawmakers scheduled to play for Team GOP this year were no-shows.

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s office said he didn’t end up playing this year because he’s been having some knee troubles (although we still note that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have still attended). Loudermilk, a Cassville Republican, is a longtime member of the team who was present at that 2017 practice when lawmakers and their security were targeted by a shooter.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene sent us a long statement that essentially said she decided to boycott the charity event because “what’s happening in Congress is too serious for baseball. We shouldn’t be playing games.”

“With a government on the verge of shutdown, an economy crashing due to COVID restrictions, a worker epidemic, vaccine mandates, and small businesses being destroyed, I don’t feel like I can play baseball with Democrats or Republicans who want to vote for an infrastructure bill that’s phase one of the Green New Deal,” the Rome Republican wrote in a lengthy statement.

The third Georgia member of Team GOP, U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, was in the dugout cheering for his colleagues and seemed to be enjoying himself. He didn’t actually get in the game as far as we could tell.

Sen. Jon Ossoff held it down for Georgia on Team Democrat and was among the strongest player on that side. He did a little of everything: strong hitting with RBIs, making a powerful throw to first for a crucial out, and he even pitched a couple of innings and struck out three players in one of them.

“It was a blast,” the Atlanta Democrat said after the game. “It was just a dream to play on a major league field. So, I appreciate the coaches and all my colleagues who played. It’s a lot of fun.”

Ossoff has a baseball background that wasn’t well known prior to the game. He played third base for a team in the British Baseball Federation, that nation’s top-tiered league, while he attended the London School of Economics in 2013. Both he and his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, are also ultimate frisbee players.

President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at the game, passing out ice cream bars with the presidential seal in both team dugouts. Although there was a smattering of boos from the crowd on the GOP side, the Republican lawmakers were cordial and even took selfies with the commander-in-chief.

The question is, will they play ball later today when it comes to infrastructure, government funding and the debt ceiling?

One final tidbit from the game: Florida Rep. Greg Steube hit the first out-of-the-park homerun in over 40 years, according to the broadcast commentators. Remember, the game was held in a MLB sized stadium, so that’s quite a feat.


So what’s going to happen today when Congress convenes? Who knows. But we do know what’s at stake.

If both the House and the Senate don’t pass temporary government funding legislation, there will be a partial shutdown starting at midnight and thousands of federal employees will have to work for free on Friday. We expect lawmakers to rush through a fix today to fund the government through Dec. 3. We aren’t sure if the bill will also include disaster relief funds for places hit by recent hurricanes and money for Afghan resettlements.

That legislation is unlikely to include language that addresses the federal debt limit, which will be reached around Oct. 18. That means Congress still has to work something out to avoid a default, and there is no easy answer because Senate Republicans have used the filibuster to block Democratic attempts to pass a suspension of the debt ceiling this week.

Republicans want Democrats to add the debt limit language to the $3.5 trillion social services and climate change package being crafted instead. However, Democrats are fighting over that measure and even under the most optimistic timeline it’s weeks away from becoming law. The Oct. 18 fiscal cliff could be reached before that happens.

And because that package isn’t ready for a vote, progressive Democrats have made it clear that if Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings the separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill up for a vote today, they won’t support it. Pelosi promised moderates, including Georgia’s Carolyn Bourdeaux, they would get a vote on infrastructure today. But Pelosi also said she won’t bring a bill to the floor that won’t pass.

Stand by to see if there is an infrastructure vote today or not.


We told you yesterday that supporters of the effort to de-annex Buckhead from Atlanta to create a new city are pushing for action at the state Capitol during the upcoming special session.

At a press conference in Buckhead, state Sen. Brandon Beach announced yesterday that state Sen. Lee Anderson will hold hearings on the effort in the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee during the upcoming November session. Beach added that there will be no floor activity on the effort.

The AJC’s J.D. Capelouto has more details from yesterday’s press conference.

Along with Beach, eleven other Republican senators have committed to legislation to put the question to Buckhead voters on a referendum in 2022.


Speaking of Buckhead, it’s equally important to hear from the state and Buckhead leaders who do not support the idea of splitting the neighborhood apart from the city of Atlanta.

Eric Tannenblatt, a high-profile Republican and the global chair of public policy at Dentons law firm, spoke out against the secession idea Wednesday.

“Like most people in Buckhead, I am furious about the increase in violent crime and the absence of leadership at City Hall. Our current leaders are basically ignoring our community,” he said. “All that being said, I do not believe de-annexing Buckhead from Atlanta is the right approach.”

Tannenblatt said the upcoming Atlanta mayor’s race, just weeks away, is the right place for Buckhead voters to make a difference and make their voices heard.

We also reached out to Buckhead’s representatives at the state Capitol, who remain vocally against the idea.

State Sen. Jen Jordan said the secession effort amounts to “a bunch of Republican state senators trying to get their 10 minutes of fame” when they have other issues, including crime, in their own districts they should be paying attention to.

Jordan said she and others opposing the effort “are going to do whatever we can to make people focus on the issues and realize that if this gets out (of the Capitol), the damage that this is going to do to Atlanta and to Georgia is unfathomable.”

Jordan also said she has never been contacted by the Buckhead City Committee and the first she ever heard of a move to de-annex large portions of her district from the City Atlanta was a report in the press.

On the House side, state Rep. Betsy Holland said she has never met with the Buckhead committee, either.

Nor have the Atlanta Public Schools, the City of Atlanta, nor any of the elected representatives you’d typically expect to be contacted by an unhappy neighborhood group before they took the idea of leaving Atlanta to the media.


An unusual postscript to the Donald Trump rally in Perry Saturday: Shortly after Senate candidate Herschel Walker got off stage from speaking, he posed for a picture with U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had revved up the Perry crowd a few speakers before him.

The caption of Greene’s social media post later predicted Walker will defeat “socialist” Sen. Raphael Warnock. But what struck us was the sign they both held that read: “IMPEACH BIDEN.”

We know Greene supports the fruitless effort, but we hadn’t heard Walker endorse the idea. When we reached out to his campaign, his spokeswoman Mallory Blount declined comment.


Speaking of the Trump rally, Gov. Brian Kemp addressed one of the biggest storylines out of the event: Former President Donald Trump’s assertion that the state would be better off if Stacey Abrams had won the 2018 vote over Kemp.

“I don’t think any Republican, or anybody that’s even independent–minded in the state, thinks that’s the case,” he told Atlanta’s XTRA 106.3 radio on Wednesday.

As for the renewed calls for an “audit” of the 2020 election, Kemp said Republicans should shift their focus to the next campaign rather than keep focusing on the last.

“I understand campaigns and what people say to get people energized. The fact is, the law does not allow for an audit unless a Superior Court judge orders one,” he said.

He added: “I can tell people the truth, I can’t make them believe it.”


President Joe Biden continues to follow through on his pledge to diversify the federal court system, both in terms of demographics and the background of those he nominates to the bench.

This morning he announced the selection of two women, a criminal defense attorney and a lawyer who works for a nonprofit that advocates for prison reform, to fill vacant seats on the U.S. District Court in Northern Georgia.

Victoria Calvert, a staff attorney in the district court’s Federal Defender Program, is set to become the circuit’s second Black female district judge and the first former federal defender to serve in the role. Sarah Geraghty is senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights, an organization that has been involved in lawsuits regarding the conditions and treatment of prisoners in Georgia.

Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock had passed both names onto Biden after hearing from their Federal Nominations Advisory Commission, which reviewed applications. They both said they look forward to helping the women navigate their upcoming Senate confirmation process.


The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has issued subpoenas to 11 people who have been identified as helping to plan the rallies and events in Washington that day. On the list are Amy and Kylie Kremer, a Georgia mother-daughter team who recently have organized “Trump Won” events around the state promoting lies about the election.


POSTED: House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy will headline the Georgia GOP’s Oct. 28 fundraising gala next month as the party looks to rebuild its bank account ahead of pivotal 2022 elections for U.S. Senate and statewide offices.

The California Republican has already pumped $150,000 from his joint fundraising committee into the state party’s coffers this year. It will be his second trip to metro Atlanta, following a May visit to Cobb County where he assailed Major League Baseball’s decision to yank the All-Star game.


Congratulations to fellow Georgia politics journo, Rahul Bali, who has a new job as politics reporter with WABE FM 90.1.

Bali is a familiar face to anyone at the state Capitol. He was a longtime member of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Lawmakers” team and moves to WABE from Oconee Radio Group.


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