The Jolt: Ossoff voices fears about ‘acute humanitarian crisis’ in Gaza

News and analysis from the AJC politics team
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., renewed warnings Tuesday that a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza would threaten regional stability in the Middle East. (Nathan Posner for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

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U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., renewed warnings Tuesday that a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza would threaten regional stability in the Middle East. (Nathan Posner for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff renewed warnings Tuesday that a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza would threaten regional stability in the Middle East. He called on Israel to allow more food, medicine and other aid supplies into the enclave.

In an interview on the AJC’s “Politically Georgia” show on WABE radio, the Atlanta Democrat highlighted ongoing efforts to pressure Israel and Egypt to allow more aid to avert a growing catastrophe.

“At this time, we are not seeing adequate flow through the Rafah border crossing of that aid,” said Ossoff of the point along the Egyptian border.

Ossoff, the first Jewish U.S. senator in Georgia history, talked about balancing Israel’s right to retaliate after Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than 1,400 people on Oct. 7 and the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

“This is an extraordinarily dangerous and volatile situation. Georgians were shocked and united in our grief and our outrage at the coldblooded massacre of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. We have now an acute humanitarian crisis in southern Gaza and a real urgency in standing up a humanitarian operation that can meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of displaced people."

- - U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff

While key political leaders from both parties united to condemn the deadly Hamas attacks, some Democrats have expressed grave concerns about the plight of Palestinian civilians killed in Israeli counterstrikes, and they’ve called for de-escalation of violence or a resumption in peace talks.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a possible Ossoff opponent in 2026, and other Republicans have largely kept their focus on Israel’s struggle against Hamas, along with the hundreds of civilians taken hostage after the surprise attack. Kem on Tuesday met with relatives of the captives, emerging from the private sit-down emotionally shaken.

Cody Hall, a Kemp political adviser, highlighted the rift in a social media post early Wednesday.

“This ‘acute humanitarian crisis’ was created by Hamas, and aid to Gaza is likely to be either commandeered by the terrorists or support their continued use of innocent civilian shields against Israel’s operations,” said Hall.

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The Division of Children and Family Service is part of the Georgia Department of Human Services. (Joshua Sharpe/AJC)

Credit: Joshua Sharpe/AJC

Credit: Joshua Sharpe/AJC

LISTEN UP. Along with his comments on the war between Israel and Hamas, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff spoke at length on Tuesday’s “Politically Georgia” radio show about his ongoing investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect in Georgia’s foster care system.

Catch the podcast version of the show at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Coming up at 10 a.m. today, we talk to state House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, about the upcoming special legislative session, along with his agenda for next year’s session. And we’ll hear from CNN political director David Chalian about the race for president and Georgia’s role in it.

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ISRAEL AID. Newly confirmed American ambassador to Israel Jack Lew will head to Jerusalem at a pivotal point in U.S.-Israel relations. At the center is $14 billion in aid that President Joe Biden has requested from Congress for the American ally.

House Republicans currently have a much different idea than Senate Democrats about approving the funds. Meanwhile, some Senate Republicans don’t want conditions placed on the aid and are open to including it as part of a broader national defense request from Biden. That proposal includes assistance for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

House Republicans, led by newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson, introduced a bill that funds Israel alone but would offset the new expense by cutting $14 billion allocated to the IRS as part of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.

“We have about $67 billion in that fund and we’ll try to take the $14.5 (billion) necessary for this immediate and urgent need,” the Louisiana Republican told Fox News.

Biden has vowed to veto that legislation, criticizing the offsetting cuts for emergency aid and lack of funding for Ukraine. Senate leaders, including top Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York and top Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, also pushed back on Johnson’s plan.

The House returns today from a long weekend. The Israel aid package could be the first major piece of legislation Johnson brings to the floor and the first indication of how he will approach his counterparts in the Senate and across the aisle.

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Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) speaks at the Georgia GOP State Convention in Jekyll Island, Georgia on June 5th, 2021. Nathan Posner for the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

THE ‘DO SOMETHING’ CONGRESS. Count Congressman Buddy Carter among those confident Rep. Mike Johnson’s election as speaker will end the government funding logjam in the U.S. House.

Speaking Monday at the Brunswick State of the Ports luncheon, the Pooler Republican said Johnson has “united” the Republican conference. He predicted the House would pass the remaining seven appropriations bills before funding runs out on Nov. 17, putting the onus on the Democratic-controlled Senate to keep the government open.

“I’m very confident that if that date comes and we don’t have bills done we’ll be able to get another continuing resolution until Jan. 15 or even April 15,” Carter said.

Still, the congressman went on to say that a government shutdown wouldn’t be the “worst thing that can happen.” He said “the reckless spending” of President Joe Biden’s Democratic government must stop and that he’s committed to cutting “waste, fraud and abuse” from the federal budget.

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Two members of Georgia’s congressional delegation have publicly pledged their support to U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson, (pictured) as he campaigns for the position of vice chairman of the Republican Conference. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

BUILDING SUPPORT. Two members of Georgia’s congressional delegation have publicly pledged their support to U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson, as he campaigns for the position of vice chairman of the Republican Conference.

U.S. Rep. Rick McCormick, the delegation’s other freshman, appeared to embrace Collins’ pitch that he can use his strong social media game to build support for the GOP agenda.

“You’re memes keep me smiling,” McCormick, R-Suwanee, wrote on social media. “Thank you for your willingness to serve, @RepMikeCollins. You have my support.”

Rep. Buddy Carter, the Pooler Republican, went a step further by making a Halloween post in a costume that doubled as an endorsement.

“For Halloween this year I’m dressed as none other than Georgia Meme King @RepMikeCollins, who I’m also supporting for Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference!” Carter wrote. “Did I do the sign right, Mike?”

In the photo, Carter wears a suit with Collins’ signature pinstripes and holds a sign that reads: “Trick: University of Florida football. Or Treat: Mike Collins VC.”

Who says memes are a waste of time?

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TWO CENSURES AND AN EXPULSION. The House could vote today on a trio of resolutions that call for censuring two controversial lawmakers and expelling a third who has been charged with multiple crimes.

The measure to remove embattled New York Rep. George Santos from the House likely has the most support. The Republican faces criminal charges related to campaign finance violations.

However, the energy surrounding Santos’ expulsion was blunted Tuesday by a memo from the House Ethics Committee. The note said the panel would reveal the results of its investigation into Santos’ conduct on Nov. 17.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, is behind an attempt to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Greene has targeted the first-generation Palestinian-American over comments she made criticizing Israel during a protest at a House office building that led to more than 300 arrests. Tlaib has labeled Israel an “apartheid government.”

Should the censure resolution against Tlaib come up for vote, another seeking to censure Greene is likely to follow. Rep. Becca Balint, a Vermont Democrat, filed that measure to remind Greene that she has also faced criticism for remarks considered antisemitic, Islamophobic, anti-LGBTQ, racist or laden with conspiracy theories.

Right now, all three measures are considered tentative for the House’s first day back after a long weekend. Speaker Mike Johnson could also assign them to committees or lead efforts to put them on ice indefinitely.

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Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) looks at congressional maps in the Senate Chambers during a special session at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Nov. 19, 2021. Georgia lawmakers are scheduled to meet for a legislative special session later this month to again redraw political district maps. (Hyosub Shin/hyosub.shin@ajc.com)

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

MAPMAKING. Georgia lawmakers are scheduled to meet for a legislative special session later this month to redraw political district maps. Gov. Brian Kemp called for the mapmaking meeting last week after a federal judge ruled the district maps drawn by the GOP-led Legislature in 2021 diluted the voting power of Black Georgians. The judge ordered the creation of a fifth majority-Black congressional district.

The AJC’s Mark Niesse offers a preview of what the new maps might look like in a news story posted Tuesday. He shares sample maps submitted during the federal trial and insights from experts, such as University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock.

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TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden tours a farm in Northfield, Minnesota, as part of his Investing in Rural America event series and delivers remarks on the initiative.
  • The U.S. Senate works through amendments on appropriations bills.
  • The House returns from recess and tackles bills related to support for Israel and condemning of antisemitism, appropriations and, potentially, resolutions to discipline three members.

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MORE EV JOBS. The largest economic development project in Georgia history — the Hyundai Metaplant in Ellabell near Savannah — keeps getting bigger. A South Korea-based auto parts maker on Tuesday announced plans to build a 460-employee facility in Dublin.

The announcement by Hwashin Co. pushes the number of pledged Hyundai supplier jobs past the 6,000 mark. The plant itself plans to employ 8,500 workers.

Hwashin is the second supplier to locate in Dublin, which is 80 miles west of the Hyundai factory, and closer to Macon and Middle Georgia population centers than to Savannah and the coast. Savannah’s labor market is tight, with a 3.0% unemployment rate, according to Georgia Department of Labor statistics. Macon’s rate is 3.9%.

The Hyundai Metaplant and another planned EV factory for automaker Rivian are economic successes frequently touted by Gov. Brian Kemp and other state Republican elected officials.

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Coconut, left, and Apricot Culpepper call Lee and Warren Culpepper of Atlanta their people. They are pictured during a hike in search of distressed sticks. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. With Halloween’s candy crush over, it’s time for a cleanse. So let’s start with Apricot and Coconut Culpepper, the two playful pups who call AJC subscribers Lee and Warren Culpepper their people.

Coconut, a golden retriever, and Apricot, a poodle mix, split their time between Atlanta, Big Canoe and Warren’s Facebook page, where he chronicles their hijinks with “The Capers of Coconut.” Their hobbies include hiking, digging for buried treasure, and rescuing tennis balls over and over and over.

For making us smile before sunrise, Coconut and Apricot, you’re our Dogs of the Day!

Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and location, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, or DM us at @MurphyAJC.

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