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Johnny Isakson, David Perdue split on highway funding bill


Georgia's Republican U.S. senators split on a highway funding bill Tuesday, as a procedural vote failed and the clock kept ticking toward the latest congressional deadline.

Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., announced a deal that would provide three years of funding, an extra $45 billion, through a variety of measures, including reducing dividends paid to big banks and tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

But the text was only released less than an hour before the vote, and senators balked at a complicated bill they did not have a chance to read, among other substantive objections. The vote failed, 41-56, and McConnell threatened weekend work to solve the impasse -- with the highway trust fund due to expire July 31.

Sen. Johnny Isakson supported the bill, while David Perdue opposed it -- a rare Georgia split.

Isakson spokeswoman Amanda Maddox emphasized that the vote was to begin debate on the bill:

"Sen. Isakson believes the Senate should have the opportunity to debate a fiscally responsible highway bill that enables Georgia and other states to make long-term plans for vital infrastructure maintenance and improvements rather than resorting to yet another short term patch."

Perdue objected to the bill having six years of policy and only three years of funding, via a spokeswoman:

"The highway bill as currently proposed is not a serious long-term solution because it isn’t fully funded. This is another example of Washington’s chronic overspending problem. While we desperately need to fund our critical infrastructure, we cannot do so with half-empty promises that are not completely paid for. Georgians didn’t send me to Washington to add to our fiscal crisis, they sent me here to fix it. I hope to see a long-term highway plan that meets our critical infrastructure needs and doesn’t compromise common-sense budgeting principles.”

Isakson and Perdue last split in April, over the Medicare "doc fix."

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Over the weekend, we reported Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal would not order National Guardsmen to arm themselves at bases and recruiting centers across the state – a response we’ve seen elsewhere to the attacks on two military facilities in Tennessee:

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the governor made the decision after consulting with Georgia National Guard leader Joe Jarrard. Robinson said the two concluded that no policy change was needed “because current state law allows members of the Guard to arm themselves if they choose to.”

State law may allow arms to be carried, but state Department of Defense policy apparently does not. A member of the Guard sends us this excerpt from the state handbook emphasis ours:

407. SECURITY

The GA DOD is committed to providing a safe working environment for all of its employees and customers. All employees are requested to do everything reasonable and necessary to keep the GADOD a safe place to work.

Safeguarding personal property, such as cash, handbags, or briefcases is the responsibility of employees while on premises or during business travel. Employees should lock all files and cabinets and clear all confidential or work materials from desk surfaces before leaving the workplace in the evening.

"All firearms or weapons of any type, concealed or unconcealed, are prohibited on state premises."

Only those employees whose jobs specifically require the carrying of firearms may do so.

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We told you Tuesday about the Georgia GOP's difficult financial situation, and party stalwart Jon Richards had a rebuttal -- or at least an explanation -- at Peach Pundit. Richards recounted a conversation he had at the GOP convention in Athens with an unnamed corporate executive:

“Who won the chairman’s election?” he asked. “Padgett,” I said. “That’s good,” he continued. “My company usually makes a big contribution to the Georgia GOP, but we were waiting this year until we knew the results of the election.”

He told me that had Alex Johnson won the chairmanship, the company’s money would have gone to a SuperPAC instead of the party. I asked him if he knew if other companies were doing the same thing. He allowed that his was not the only one to hold back. That made me wonder. “So maybe the complaints by Alex’s supporters that the party wasn’t raising enough money were the result of the fact that Johnson was in the race.”

“It was.”

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Presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum released a list of 42 individuals or couples who are serving as his National Finance Committee.

On the list is Frank Hanna, of Atlanta, who owns a private equity and venture capital firm and also a philanthropist to Catholic and other types of causes.

He has some work to do in his own state: An analysis of FEC data shows Hanna and his wife, Sally, were the only Santorum donors in Georgia last quarter.

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In honor of Donald Trump's impending visit to Atlanta, our Politifact Georgia colleagues looked at whether Bill and Hillary Clinton actually attended Trump's most recent wedding.


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