Georgia Republicans rally around Syria strikes

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President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Many of Georgia’s Republicans in Congress are backing President Donald Trump’s move yesterday to launch missile strikes against an air base in Syria, a response to the Assad regime’s chemical weapons attack earlier this week.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a “tyrant” and that his chemical weapons attacks “will not be tolerated.” Ditto for U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, who said using such weapons “is an evil and unconscionable act which warrants international response.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson also said he supported Trump’s move, saying it “sends a clear signal to the world that war crimes such as these will not be tolerated.”

Perdue was quick to take a swipe at former President Barack Obama for not taking action sooner.

“After six years of inaction by the Obama Administration, I am glad to see that President Trump is willing to stand up for these innocent victims and stop those responsible for this violence,” he said.

Obama considered and then rejected a similar strike in 2013 after declaring earlier that the use of chemical weapons was a “red line.”

Many Republicans opposed a more forceful intervention in the growing civil war at the time. Isakson had initially backed military action but later said he would vote against a resolution authorizing a U.S. military strike in Syria. Our colleagues took a deep dive into his stance at the time.

The news is already being used as fodder in the 6th District congressional race. In the hours after the news broke last night, Republican Karen Handel took to Twitter to take a hit at Jon Ossoff, the Democratic frontrunner who has been in the spotlight for his national security credentials.

This morning, Ossoff’s response hit our inboxes. He said if intelligence sources confirm that Assad indeed used chemical weapons against civilians, “a swift punitive strike on Syrian military targets is reasonable.”

“The more than fifty cruise missiles reportedly launched suggests a significant strike, and any further action should require Congressional approval,” Ossoff said. “Other than the deployment of U.S. Special Operations Forces to support coalition operations against ISIS, I urge the Administration to avoid getting drawn into an intractable ground war that cannot be resolved by U.S. military force.”

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You probably haven’t heard the last of this whistle-blower lawsuit filed by a top Georgia Department of Education official who accuses some of Georgia’s most powerful politicians of engineering her ouster.

From our AJC colleague Ty Tagami’s story:

A former Georgia education official claims in a whistle blower lawsuit that she was forced out of the state Department of Education after she pushed back against a lobbyist who was allowed to draft policies she considered to be illegal.

 

Margo DeLaune claims in Fulton County Superior Court that state Superintendent Richard Woods bowed to pressure from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Dan Weber, a former state senator-turned lobbyist. She claims she was an obstacle to their plans to relax restrictions on the use of federal “Title 1” dollars intended to help educate students from low-income households.

At issue is a pilot program pushed by Weber, the executive director of the Georgia Charter System Foundation, that involves three school districts and a charter school and is about to encompass a second wave of 15 school districts. More from Tagami:

As a lawmaker, Weber helped pass the charter system law, and Cagle is a strong supporter of it. The law waives state mandates for things like maximum student-teacher ratios or minimum annual school calendar days in school districts that sign “accountability” contracts that emphasize “school-based leadership” and “decision-making.”

 

Cagle’s office had no comment. His general counsel, Irene Munn, is identified in the lawsuit as having lobbied Woods to fire DeLaune “on account of her repeated objections to Weber’s control over the pilot program.” Munn said in a statement that it is “inappropriate” to comment on pending litigation or personnel issues.

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Gov. Nathan Deal seems likely to sign the campus carry 2.0 measure even after vetoing it last year. But a possible drafting error in the measure could complicate his decision.

Writing in GeorgiaPol.com, Democratic aide Stefan Turkheimer notes a lack of a comma in the provision regarding faculty offices could cause legal problems.

It revolves around a provision that excludes certain on-campus spots, including “faculty, staff, or administrative offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.”

The problem, Turkheimer writes, is the missing comma after the word offices. He continues:

Without that comma, it’s just two clauses both modifying “offices or rooms.” This reading becomes even more persuasive when you consider that both of these area exceptions, if they were meant to be separate, could, and perhaps should, have been put into different clauses. That’s how “Move on When Ready” and career academies were handled in the same bill.

 

So unless faculty offices are also rooms where “disciplinary hearings are conducted”, they would NOT be exempted. Let’s just ignore whether these rooms are off-limits only when they are being used for disciplinary hearings or whether they are off-limits from carrying at all times because sometimes they host disciplinary meetings (makes less sense, but that’s what the bill says).

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A recent NRA Political Victory Fund attack ad against Ossoff incorrectly states the Democratic frontrunner grew up in Washington, D.C., according to CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski.

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Unlike Perdue, Isakson has refrained from picking sides in the special election for the 6th District congressional seat he himself once occupied.

But Isakson on Thursday mused that Ossoff, the race’s frontrunner, would not win the race outright on April 18 and that the race would need to go into a runoff.

“I think it’s at best a toss-up for (Democrats). I think it’ll be a Republican seat,” he said.

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We’ve told you previously about how this recent legislative session ended in House-Senate bickering over a number of key issues.

But it’s taken some time to realize just how dysfunctional it became. A perfect example is in the effort to create a statewide transit commission. House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, had his plan. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, had his own.

In the end, neither passed, both caught up in endless wrangling between the two chambers. But, on the Legislature’s final day, House leaders sensed the trouble and quickly wrote, introduced and passed House Resolution 848, which creates a House-only transit funding study commission.

The only real difference in HR 848 and the original bills? No senators will be involved in this discussion.

That last-minute legislative push wasn’t a surprise, Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen said.

“I mean, if the Senate wasn’t going to act to help Georgia’s foster children, what chance did transit planning have?” he said.

Ouch. Background here.

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Over at WABE, Molly Samuel has news that a plan to store coal ash in a south Georgia county landfill is off the table.

From Samuel’s story:

Opponents of the plan, concerned about environmental risks, had been fighting the idea for more than a year, in newspaper editorials, at public hearings and in the state legislature. The Broadhurst Landfill in Wayne County announced Wednesday that it’s pulling three permit applications with the state and federal governments, and it now has no plans to bring in or store coal ash.

 


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