Hank Johnson compares immigration executive order to Emancipation Proclamation

Congressman Hank Johnson (left) and his supporters wave at traffic near Hank Johnson Campaign Head Quarter in Lithonia on Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AJC/Hyosub Shin)

Rep. Hank Johnson (left) campaigning in Lithonia in April. (AJC/Hyosub Shin)

WASHINGTON — The big news ricocheting around Capitol Hill on Thursday was an early leak of the outline of a long-awaited executive action granting legal status to millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S.

It was a welcome chance to throw the rhetoric machine into overdrive. A bunch of House Democrats had a press conference to cheer President Barack Obama, and more than one compared the coming order to the Emancipation Proclamation.

Here’s Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, talking about opponents of granting legal status:

“They’re protecting an economic order that makes its living off of cheap labor, just like slavery. You entice people from across the border to come here and you pay them sub-wages and you keep them in an underground economy and you refuse to let them out. Those people work hard. They have played by the rules. They have built this country. …

“One day there will be movies written about this episode in American history. There will be a president who issues an executive order like the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed 3 to 4 million slaves with the signing of a pen. There will be some bold leaders in the Congress trying to move those who try to cling to the status quo. …

“In the end of the movie Congress will — there will be some bold action in Congress by congressional leaders to force the others to do what is right. And it may take a little bit more time, but I’m proud to stand here with those who have been fighting for a long time and those who have the strength to continue to fight until we get this done.

“I also want to say to President Obama: We have your back. Don’t worry about it. Do the right thing. Let’s make it happen.”

On the other side of the aisle, some Republicans are pushing to block funding for enforcement of Obama’s order in any spending bill — setting up a possible government shutdown showdown ahead of a Dec. 11 deadline. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, said he has been pushing his colleagues for a drama-free omnibus spending bill to clear the decks for the new Congress, but Obama is making it difficult.

“It is almost as if the president wants the crisis,” Woodall said. “Look at any public opinion survey in the country. No one believes in the kind of amnesty the president is talking about. It’s an 80 percent issue in this country.”

But Republicans have never worked well with Obama, so how can this executive action make things any worse on the Hill? Said Woodall:

“He could come and say: ‘Let’s get this right in the last two months.’ And I promise you he would find willing partners. He can lead with immigration by executive action, or he could lead by asking for a transportation bill for long-term transportation policy. He could lead by asking us to send him the Hire More Heroes Act that puts veterans back to work. He could lead by asking for the Adoption Promotion Act that deals with working families that have come apart.

“Hundreds of bills here that have passed with almost 100 percent Democrat support, and we could begin to grease the wheels of success. This is a president who was not serious two years ago about getting something done. He was serious about picking a fight. And it appears — if he goes on as he’s promising to go on — he’s just trying to pick a fight again.”

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We are picking up word of a robo call going out to Democrats saying that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed did not do enough for Jason Carter this year in the governor’s race — and he needs to decide whether he is a true Democrat.

The folks at City Hall, as you can imagine, are not pleased.

If anyone has the audio or tips on who is paying for the calls, please let us know.

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Cobb County chairman Tim Lee sent an open letter to county residents that included an apology for his handling of the secret negotiations with the Atlanta Braves to bring the franchise over the Chattahoochee.

From the letter:

“In hindsight, I realize it would have been helpful to provide more information at the time of the public announcement about the private phase of the discussions before the deal was made public. For example, I could have provided a written summary to Commissioners and the public regarding the timeline and process of my discussions with the Braves. To the extent I could have done things differently and better communicated our actions, I sincerely apologize.”

Part of the letter directly addresses Tom Cheek, the citizen who filed an ethics complaint against Lee. There is a ethics hearing next week on the matter, and the Marietta Daily Journal points out that Thursday’s letter and a meeting between Lee and Cheek are attempts to “shut down” the hearing.

It does not appear to be success. From the MDJ:

Cheek has said multiple times in the past he would withdraw the complaint if Lee apologized, even writing in his original ethics complaint filed in August he “would drop the complaint if the Chairman publically apologizes for his actions and pledges to be more careful concerning using outside advisors in place of the Governing Authority — the full Board of Commissioners.”

After reading the letter, however, Cheek said he would not back down.“It does not address the Open Records Act issues in my complaint, so I’m not going to drop the complaint,” Cheek said.

Our AJC colleague Dan Klepal — who has driven this story since Day One — also reports today that Lee is trying to get an ethics board member removed before the hearing.

The reason: Lee switched attorneys, and his new counsel is the ex-husband of ethics board member Angeline Fleeman Mathis.

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House Speaker John Boehner was re-elected to his post by voice vote with little drama on Thursday. Among those voices were a handful of no’s, one of which belonged to Rep.-elect Jody Hice, of Monroe.

Here’s what Hice told us in the hallway after the vote:

“I was a voice for our district and Mr. Boehner prevailed. And we’ll keep standing for conservative values and principles.”

Hice said he was not surprised that Boehner cruised to re-election:

“I was hearing probably that coming in, so you know, the caucus has spoken so we’ll go from here.”

You may recall that the man Hice is replacing, Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, voted against Boehner on the floor in 2013 in favor of former Rep. Allen West.

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All of Georgia’s federal judicial nominees, with the exception of controversial Judge Michael Boggs, are now set to be confirmed during the lame duck session. The Senate has scheduled procedural votes on Mark Cohen, Leslie Joyce Abrams and Eleanor Ross for Monday evening, with final confirmation to follow.

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The Hill has named Republican Rep.-elect Rick Allen, of Evans, the most underrated candidate of this year’s elections:

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) had seemed unbeatable, winning year after year in a red district.

 In 2014, his luck ran out.

Allen, who finally beat him, didn’t fare well in 2012, and GOP operatives privately worried the wealthy businessman would be seen as out of touch with the rural district. But he won the primary outright in 2014, retooling his campaign team and message.

Allen hammered Barrow as voting too often with the president en route to a 10-point win.

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Meagan Myers Hanson, who chairs the Georgia Young Republicans, is set to announce her candidacy to lead the national organization. GOP strategist Todd Rehm sends word that  Hanson is a “rising star” who will take lessons of Georgia’s voter turnout efforts to the national convention.

“With Georgia set to play a major role in the 2016 presidential primaries, her opinion will be sought by candidates looking to build out a campaign organization in the Peach State,” he said.

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Former President Jimmy Carter is teaming with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim on a program to eliminate river blindness from two south American countries.

The disease, also known as onchocerciasis, is one of the nasty illnesses targeted by the Carter Center. Mexico is now clear of the disease, as is Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala. But there are still a handful of cases deep in the Amazon rain forest in tribal communities in Brazil and Venezuela.


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