The Jolt: Washington marks anniversary of Atlanta spa shootings

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly media availability on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pelosi will lead a congressional delegation to international climate talks beginning later this month in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly media availability on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pelosi will lead a congressional delegation to international climate talks beginning later this month in Glasgow, Scotland. (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/TNS)

One year ago today, a gunman killed eight people at three Asian-owned spas in Metro Atlanta. The rampage struck terror among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide and led to a conversation about violence against members of those communities.

Congress passed legislation to curb the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, which President Joe Biden signed into law in May. Biden’s statement this morning says there is more work still to do.

“On this somber anniversary, my Administration remains fully committed to advancing safety, inclusion, and belonging for all Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders—especially the women and girls who disproportionately bear the burdens of hate—and to reducing the gun violence that terrorizes our communities,” he said.

Newly elected Georgia U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff also were vocal proponents of the anti-Asian hate legislation.

Today, Warnock plans to make remarks on the Senate floor to honor the victims. Both he and Ossoff have also recorded video tributes that will be played during events in Georgia.

On the House side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Georgia U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus will speak about the impact of the rampage during an event on the Capitol steps later this morning.

“No matter your race, ethnicity, or gender, everyone has the right to live without fear of violence in their workplace or public spaces,” Williams said in a statement.

She and fellow Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath have also introduced a resolution commemorating the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting and denouncing anti-Asian hate.

Earlier this week, McBath held a private, virtual event with members of the AAPI, while Bourdeaux is in Georgia and will attend local events in person. She’ll be at the Asian justice rally outside the State Capitol at noon and later join the Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian Hate in Norcross.

The three spa targeted last year spanned the districts of Williams, D-Atlanta, and Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville. Loudermilk’s office did not respond to inquiries about whether he will participate in any events today.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Wednesday, March 26

  • 8:00 a.m.: No rest for the weary-- Committee work begins.
  • 1:00 p.m.: The Senate convenes;
  • 2:00 p.m.: The House gavels in.


The marathon, late night voto-rama known as Crossover Day at the state Capitol almost lived up to its ride-or-die billing Tuesday, as the House passed 60 bills, the Senate cleared 45, and both wrapped up work after 9 (the House went to 11:02.)

But before the action got started, the Pastor of the Day, Andy Stanley, sent the House into its day with this rather specific advice about leadership and division, which he said is “always a choice.”

“Those of you who pander to and foster division - you are terrible leaders,” Stanley counseled. “If you need an enemy in order to lead, you’re a poor leader.”

Pastor Peters’ full remarks are well worth watching and available here.


The AJC’s hardworking-Georgia Capitol team of James Salzer, Maya Prabhu, Mark Niesse and Dave Wickert covered all the Crossover Day action with in-depth precision. We here at the Jolt instead have this Jolt-sized recap:

  • The House passed its elections bill banning outside funding, giving the GBI direct investigative authority and allowing public inspection of paper ballots;
  • The House passed a bill to put a lawmaker pay raise on the 2022 ballot;
  • The Senate voted to lengthen its terms from two years to four;
  • Both chambers expanded the stalled medical marijuana program;
  • The Senate passed a bill defining a protest as “two or more people committing and unlawful act” and laying out penalties for specific protests;
  • Two Buckhead City bills were introduced in the Senate and quickly assigned to the dust bin of a Democratic-led committee, which is highly unlikely to even review them;
  • Catch up on the rest at


We taped the mid-week edition of the Politically Georgia Podcast live from the Capitol Tuesday. We’ve got the report from Crossover Day, a look at Stacey Abrams’ campaign kickoff week, and more.

Listen here and subscribe for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher to make sure you don’t miss an episode.


The Huffington Post dug up footage of leading GOP Senate contender Herschel Walker questioning the theory of evolution during a recent conversation with pastor Chuck Allen at Sugar Hill Church.

“At one time science said, man came from apes, did it not?” Walker said. “This is what is interesting though, if that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”

“Now you’re getting too smart for us, Herschel,” Allen responded.

Watch the entire conversation here.


Herschel Walker’s closest rival, Gary Black, has a new digital attack ad opening with the bleak advisory, “Warning: Viewer Discretion is Advised.”

The two-minute ad spot then asks viewers to imagine how Democrats will treat the football star if he’s the GOP nominee.

What follows is a litany of reports documented in the AJC and other outlets that will surely be weaponized against Walker by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock in a general election campaign.

They include accusations that Walker physically abused and threatened his ex-wife, mistress and other women, along with a claim that he’s “hiding” from tough questions from the media.

“We have to wonder, how many more women are out there? And what stories might they tell? Now, ask yourself, are you still thinking about voting for Herschel Walker?”

See Black’s new site here.


Just in: U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock announced this morning he’s introducing the Relief for Families Act—a bill he designed to allow states & localities to use federal dollars to fund a sales tax holiday on essential items like groceries, clothing & medicine. It’s part of an ongoing theme from Warnock that addresses Georgians’ pocketbook issues.


It’s “Georgia Week” at Mar-a-Lago, where former president Donald Trump is hosting a fundraiser for his Georgia governor pick, former senator David Perdue Wednesday. On Thursday, Trump’s candidate for the 10th Congressional District, Vernon Jones, will get his Mar-a-Lago fundraiser.

We’ve heard from plenty of Georgians headed to Palm Beach for the doubleheader with their sunscreen and their checkbooks. We’ll report back.


Lieutenant governor candidate Burt Jones had Jason Aldean. Now Senate candidate Latham Saddler has the musical stylings of the Kinchafoonee Cowboys. Your Jolt a.m. staff is too old to know who they are, but you can see them with Saddler at his next fundraiser on March 17th.


In Washington, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address Congress virtually this morning.

We expect most of Georgia’s delegation to attend the closed-door speech. Zelensky first met virtually with members two weeks ago by Zoom.

He is expected to continue making the case for the U.S. to make fighter jets available or help enforce a no-fly zone in Ukraine’s war against Russia, something the White House has thus far resisted.


A bill from Georgia U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson is slated for a vote on the House floor today and has the backing of the White House.

H.R. 963 would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts, which advocates say keep discrimination and harassment complaints from being made public through lawsuits or class actions.

The most recent champion of Johnson’s bill has been former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, whose racial discrimination lawsuit has been thwarted by a forced arbitration clause in his employment contract.

The House passed similar legislation two years ago, but it got nowhere in the Senate, which was led by Republicans then.


Atlanta U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams is helping lead a group of 89 members of the House in a letter asking President Joe Biden to restart climate change talks.

About $550 billion worth of clean energy initiatives were among the provisions in the Build Back Better package, which is now stalled in the Senate.

U.S. Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux, Lucy McBath and Hank Johnson also signed on to the letter.

Separately, Williams is hosting her quarterly tele-town hall tonight at 6:00 focused on constituent services for Social Security and Veterans Affairs. It will be livestreamed on Williams’ Facebook page. Constituents can join the call to ask questions directly.


Finally, the AJC editorial board is up with an editorial on former Atlanta mayor, the late Sam Massell, who died this week. It includes this very-Massell anecdote:

In the book “Atlanta Rising," author Frederick Allen wrote that, while vacationing after being elected mayor, Massell “bought tie clasps that showed tiny doves carrying olive branches and sent them to the men he believed had tried to wreck his campaign in its final days."

The absence of Massell's voice and the example he lived is a great loss for Atlanta and our state.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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