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Ga. politicos clutch wish lists as Trump takes Capitol Hill spotlight

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s prime-time address to Congress tonight is being watched closely by Georgia leaders looking for more detail on everything from infrastructure to health care.

State lawmakers said they’re eager for Trump during his first speech before a joint session of Congress to fill in the details on many of his sweeping campaign pledges, including overhauling the tax code, replacing Obamacare and injecting $1 trillion into infrastructure projects.

“What I’m really looking for is policy,” said Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler. I want to know exactly how he hopes to get to where we all want to get with tax reform, with health care reform, border security.”

Indeed, for every RSVP to tonight's speech there seems to be just as many pet issues lawmakers would like Trump to delve into during his speech.

For Carter, a former pharmacist, it’s all about health care. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, wants details on some sort of job training program that could specifically lend a hand to young black men, an issue he has emphasized in recent legislation on Capitol Hill.



Back in Atlanta, the item at the top of the ticket for many political leaders is Savannah’s port -- specifically ensuring more federal funding for dredging work.

Gov. Nathan Deal cited reports that the Trump administration could be focusing on infrastructure projects that are already poised to begin.

“We are not only shovel ready, we are already dredging. We should be at the top,” he said of Trump’s project wish-list. “And the $266 million the General Assembly has already appropriated got us ready. We are looking forward to a huge infusion in the near future because we need this project.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is on the same page.

“The port is Savannah’s port, but it’s also metro Atlanta’s port,” Reed said Monday.

Indeed, Trump told governors visiting the White House on Monday that he plans to make a "big statement” in Tuesday’s speech about infrastructure.

“We’re going to start spending on infrastructure big,” he told the group. “It’s not like we have a choice.”

In reality, Trump will likely keep his speech at the 30,000-foot level when it comes to policy, as most presidents do in their state of the union addresses. Specific projects or programs can often hope for nothing more than a passing reference during such wide-ranging speeches.

A list of talking points sent to congressional offices and published by several news including Politico promised a speech that would focus on how Trump has made good on many of his campaign pledges while presenting a more optimistic and inclusive vision for the future.

“It will be a speech addressed to all Americans as Americans—not to a coalition of special interests and minor issue,” according to the talking points.

Nearly every member of Georgia’s congressional delegation is expected to attend. The only lawmaker who has yet to RSVP is Atlanta Democrat John Lewis, who got into a personal battle with Trump earlier this year.

How to watch Tuesday’s speech:

Start time: roughly 9 p.m. eastern

Where: C-SPAN and other news networks. It will also be streamed live on whitehouse.gov.

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.

RelatedJohn Lewis might skip Donald Trump’s first Capitol Hill speech

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.