Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Johnny Isakson to HHS pick: Savannah harbor project is more important than your nomination

A few weeks after officialdom in Georgia learned that another federal budget would exclude funding for a deepening of the Port of Savannah, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced her resignation.

In her stead, President Barack Obama nominated Sylvia Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget – and the woman who put the brakes on the Savannah project.

Since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., invoked the “nuclear option,” non-judicial nominations aren’t subject to filibuster. But during a Senate committee hearing today, Johnny Isakson, in the video above, all but said he's willing to wage whatever delaying action he can until he gets what he wants.

The first words out of Isakson’s mouth to Burwell:

“As you know from our conversations the last couple days, there’s no challenge that I have before me as a U.S. senator that more important – including your confirmation – than getting the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project done in my state….”

And then this:

“….I don’t want you leaving OMB until I know that we’re going to be able to move forward with the Savannah harbor project.”

And finally, this exchange:

Burwell: “Senator, I look forward to continuing that conversation, and I think that there are ways that this project could go forward.”

Isakson: “I look forward to those meetings prior to confirmation, so we can do everything we can to solidify that.”

Next week, Burwell goes before the Senate Finance Committee. Isakson is a member of that committee, too.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.