President Joe Biden’s attempt to calm Americans who are worried about rising prices and scarcity of products in his first-ever State of the Union was shaped in part by the Georgia Democrat whose victory gave him a chance to promote a more aggressive agenda.
Biden insisted that his “top priority is getting prices under control” amid surging inflation, with the price of housing, groceries and fuel on the rise. And he called on lowering the cost of drug prices, endorsing the push to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month “so everyone can afford it.”
Both are also top agenda items for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, whose victory helped flip control of the chamber and whose November reelection bid in 2022 could again determine whether Democrats keep the Senate.
Warnock and U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath co-sponsored the insulin price cap measure that Biden endorsed. And Warnock has pressed the White House to adopt a federal gas tax holiday and target shipping companies suspected of gouging prices.
We spoke with Warnock Tuesday ahead of Biden’s speech, which Warnock skipped after doing a series of events in Georgia Monday and Tuesday.
This is my friend, Evan.
He has Type 1 diabetes.
His mom pays $9,500 a year for health care & copays to cover his insulin & other necessary diabetes supplies.
That's why I'm working to pass my Affordable Insulin Now Act, to cap out-of-pockets costs for insulin at $35/month. pic.twitter.com/6ZTOi1AiZk
— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) March 1, 2022
“I have been very focused on rising costs for hardworking families in Georgia and part of that is looking at these issues around supply chain and what’s driving these costs,” he said. “I’m happy to hear that somebody was clearly listening. It’s a welcome development. The specter of companies increasing their prices tenfold and seeing increased profits at 2,000% in the midst of a pandemic is outrageous. It raises a whole range of questions about the need for stronger antitrust measures.”
The Democrat said he’d seek other ways to “hold these companies accountable,” along with measures to spur more domestic production of key products such as semiconductor chips.
“We can make microchips at home. We have the knowledge, the resources and wherewithal. It’s not just a consumer protection issue and a supply chain issue. It’s a national security issue.”
Most of Georgia’s delegation attended Tuesday’s State of the Union address, including members of both parties.
They heard bipartisan applause, especially when the president focused his remarks on Ukraine and fighting to ensure democracy around the world, and a few boo’s when he criticized the Trump tax cuts.
Following the speech, Democrats generally had much more praise for his remarks.
“The American people agree overwhelmingly with the President’s ambitious unity agenda unveiled tonight on gun violence, public safety, the opioid crisis and action to make immediate, meaningful impact for families struggling with inflation costs,” U.S. Rep. David Scott said in a statement after the speech.
Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made more headlines after she and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado heckled Biden at various points. Both of them chanted “build the wall” when the speech touched in immigration.
#SOTU22 was not without its partisan moments. Two far-right Republican lawmakers, Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, shouted ‘build the wall’ in response to immigration policy. ‘Sit down,’ a Democratic lawmaker shouted back https://t.co/Dt7Xatt7Qdpic.twitter.com/EDQA4xLAoY
When Biden mentioned federal protections for transgender children, Greene shouted out “stay out of women’s sports.” Boebert later disrupted Biden as he spoke about veterans, including his son Beau, and whether exposures in combat areas caused their cancer.
UNDER THE GOLD DOME:
The House and Senate are adjourned for a committee work day, with nearly two dozen hearings stacked from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
In case you missed it Tuesday:
The House passed HB 1302, Gov. Brian Kemp’s bill to give income tax refunds to Georgia taxpayers. If passed by the Senate, the refunds will be between $250 to $500 per household;
The state Senate passed SB 456 to require women to have an in-person doctors visit with an ultrasound exam in order to access abortion-inducing medication;
Speaker David Ralston announced major new tax cut and reform legislation, which would bundle and expand existing exemptions up to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 per household.
Today, we’re keeping an eye on:
The House Health and Human Services Committee, which is expected to finalize HB 1013, the major mental health care bill from House Speaker David Ralston;
The Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which will consider up to three bills to expand gaming in Georgia. As we say in our business, watch this space.
First in the Jolt: We’ve got Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller’s newest video, which introduces Miller to Georgia voters ahead of the upcoming lieutenant governor’s race. It also marks the return of one of the most effective campaign devices in Georgia politics-- an adorable baby.
The baby in Miller’s video is meant to be his GOP primary opponent, state Sen. Burt Jones, with this line:
“It’s going to take a true, conservative fighter to protect our Georgia values, not an ineffective politician who was born on third base and spent his whole life thinking he hit a triple.”
Jones’ father is a wealthy former state lawmaker who founded Jones Petroleum.
In the governor’s race, former Sen. David Perdue was in Rutledge Tuesday, where he joined local residents to protest the $5 billion Rivian auto plant planned for the area.
Landing the Rivian deal was considered a coup for Gov. Brian Kemp. But as our Greg Bluestein reports, Perdue told the crowd of about 100, “I’m here to tell you I hear you, I see you, and I’m standing with you right now in this fight.”
“If we lose this battle, what are we going to do next?" Perdue asked. “You guys want to be heard – but your governor is refusing to listen. I’m here to tell you I hear you, I see you, and I’m standing with you right now in this fight.” #gapol
That line reminded us of a one from another 2022 candidate, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, whose first ad this cycle tells Georgians, “I see you. I hear you. I am you.”
The Other Perdue made headlines Tuesday, too, when former Gov. Sonny Perdue, cousin to David Perdue, was named by the Board of Regents to be the next chancellor of the University System of Georgia.
Perdue’s selection for the plum job is the result of a serious flex from Gov. Brian Kemp, who spent months overhauling the makeup of the Board in order have him installed.
We break down what it all means for Georgia politics, and what kind of chancellor we might expect Sonny Perdue to be, in our midweek edition of the Political Georgia podcast.
We told you yesterday that U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde was one of three members of the House, all Republicans, who voted against a bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime.
During the debate, proponents said the law is needed to criminalize the public execution of people of color, while several pointed to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick as a “modern day lynching.”
But Clyde said in a statement that the bill isn’t needed because state and federal laws addressing murder and hate crimes are punishment enough.
“Lynching is an evil act of violence that is already against the law at the federal level; it is first-degree murder,” the Athens Republican said, adding, in part, “Simply put, we do not need another duplicative federal law.”
UGA Coach Kirby Smartwas the football Tuesday morning when he paid a visit to the Georgia state Capitol.
We’re told by sources deep inside the operation that Smart was carefully passed from the Governor’s office to the House chamber, and then on to the Senate with more planning and precision than a Stetson Bennett game maker.
Coach posed for pictures with the Dawgs’ national championship trophy alongside lawmakers, who were, for a few moments, like 156 kids in a candy store.
And he showed a serious flair for the game of politics, too, urging members to focus on keeping the university system strong and explaining that great leadership attracts more families to Georgia for him to recruit from.
“So the better you make this state, the better our football team is going to be, so I look at this as a team effort.”
See what he did there? We all won that trophy! Go Dawgs.