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State & Regional Govt & Politics

    Former Vice President Joe Biden’s aides are debating whether he should launch a bid for the White House with a pledge to make Democrat Stacey Abrams his running mate, according to an Axios report.  The outlet reported Thursday that his advisers are deeply divided over the idea, with some hoping that it could balance his appeal to Democrats who demand a more diverse ticket and others worried it would be perceived as a gimmick. The private sit-down between Abrams and Biden earlier this month has only fed the speculation, and though details about the meeting have been scant, Abrams’ insiders say Biden made no formal request about running on the same ticket. There’s another catch: Abrams still hasn’t figured out her next step, whether it be a run for U.S. Senate, a bid for governor or prepping her own presidential bid.  And her aides acknowledge that while Biden’s team might be pondering a joint ticket, she has yet to firm up her own plans.  “You have to be intentional, but you also have to be flexible,” Abrams said this week at Vanderbilt University. “I never thought I’d be mentioned for Senate or that my name would be bandied about for president - yet.”   
  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is opening a new investigation into allegations that 4,700 absentee ballot requests went missing before November's election. Raffensperger, a Republican, announced the investigation Thursday after the Democratic Party of Georgia had alleged last fall that 4,700 DeKalb County voters sent ballot applications to the county elections office but never received their absentee ballots in the mail. It's unclear how Raffensperger's investigation is different from the inquiry opened after the Democratic Party questioned what happened to the lost ballots in October, when Republican Brian Kemp was secretary of state. Kemp was elected governor in November. “There is nothing I take more seriously than guaranteeing election integrity and bringing free and fair elections to every eligible voter, whether they choose to vote absentee or on Election Day,” Raffensperger said. “My office will exhaust every resource to investigate these allegations.” The Democratic Party tracked the absentee ballot requests to a post office in the same zip code as the DeKalb elections office. It's unknown whether those ballot requests went missing at the post office, at the elections office or at some other point in the delivery process. “We're still extremely concerned that we don't know what happened to the 4,700 DeKalb absentee ballots that went missing before the 2018 election,” said Democratic Party of Georgia spokeswoman Maggie Chambers. “We are committed to continuing our work and doing our part to make sure the issues of last year's election do not repeat in future elections.'  Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • Georgia Senate leaders boosted Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed teacher raise back up to $3,000, but educators would have to wait a few months to receive the pay hike. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday backed a $27.5 billion state budget for fiscal 2020 — which begins July 1 — that includes the pay raise for educators, including certified staffers such as counselors and school psychologists. Georgia’s House had passed a spending plan that included $2,775 raises because the chamber’s budget-writers said Kemp’s original plan didn’t include money for thousands of school psychologists, counselors, media specialists, social workers, speech and language pathologists, and instructional technologists. Under the Senate’s version, the state would save about $50 million by delaying the start of the pay raise from July 1 to Sept. 1. By doing so, it would have the money — more than $400 million — to give k-12 educators the full raise Kemp proposed. The Senate is expected to approve its budget plan in the coming days, opening negotiations with the House over the final version for the upcoming year. Lawmakers must approve a balanced budget before the session ends April 2. On the campaign trail last fall, Kemp promised teachers a $5,000 pay raise. He called this year’s increase a down payment on meeting that promise. Both chambers backed Kemp’s plan for 2 percent raises for state and University System of Georgia employees. Both chambers would also borrow $150 million for a new voting system in Georgia and $100 million for bridge projects. Georgia plans to replace the state’s 16-year-old electronic voting machines with a voting system that has a paper trail for accuracy. Both chambers have approved legislation to go with paper ballots printed by touchscreen computers, similar to the system currently in use statewide, rather than strictly hand-marked paper ballots that would be much cheaper. That legislation is awaiting Kemp’s signature. Officials said the budget also fully funds the k-12 school formula, which was shorted for more than a decade before Gov. Nathan Deal added money to it during the 2018 session. Most of the increased spending in the budget goes to k-12 schools and public health care, two big-ticket areas of state spending that traditionally grow in a major way each year. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, also noted increases for things such as mental health services, food pantries and programs to get more doctors into rural Georgia’s health care system. “This is a progressive budget that meets many of the human needs of the citizens of this state … the human needs of the elderly, of children, of those in need,” Hill told colleagues on the panel before Thursday’s vote. Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at ajc.com/news/georgia-government/.
  • Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal to devise health care “waiver” programs that might ease insurance for some poor and middle-class Georgians passed a special House committee on Wednesday. The measure, Senate Bill 106, has already passed the state Senate. Its next step is to be seen by the House Rules Committee, the gateway to the House floor. Then, if passed without amendments, Kemp would have before him the legislation he first suggested word for word. “I’m very pleased with it,” said state Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, who is chairman of the House Insurance Committee and led the Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care, which heard SB 106 Wednesday. The committee voted for it 11-3, with at least one Democrat in favor and no Republicans opposed. The often positive testimony from witnesses reflected the findings of Atlanta Journal-Constitution polls expressing a desire to figure out how to insure the hundreds of thousands of Georgia poor who are currently not eligible for Medicaid. The legislation would give Kemp the authority to request federal “waivers” to Medicaid and Affordable Care Act rules in order to design programs tailored to the state. It is possible that the waiver programs could end up insuring hundreds of thousands of poor childless adult Georgians who are currently ineligible for Medicaid. Or it might do something much less. The choice would be Kemp’s. The near unity among witnesses in favor of a waiver broke down over what exactly such a waiver should do. A parade of advocates testified to Smith’s committee that they supported the effort to expand coverage. But several, including Democrats, said the measure didn’t go far enough, and they either spoke against it or wouldn’t urge a yes vote. Many are concerned that as Kemp decides how best to shape the state’s Medicaid program, the bill limits him to dealing only with the population up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or those who make about $12,000 a year for an individual. Federal law encouraged expansion of Medicaid to all poor people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $16,000 for an individual. Several groups, including the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, praised the possibility of expanding Medicaid and asked for it to go to 138 percent of the poverty level. Georgia Watch’s Berneta Haynes praised the benefits of Medicaid coverage to the poor and to the economy. “We are, however, struggling with consternation about the 200,000 or so just above the poverty line that may miss out,” Haynes said. State Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City, is not on the committee but did testify. She said she was concerned not only that the bill stopped short at the number of poor people it would include, but also at the amount of power the bill gives the governor. There is no requirement for him to run his eventual decisions by the Legislature. One speaker, with the libertarian group Georgians for Prosperity, opposed the bill for the opposite reason, because he said insuring so many more poor people with Medicaid would encourage unemployment. Many said it was worth doing something rather than nothing. State Rep. Patty Bentley, a Democrat from Butler, was among them. “What we have on the table right now, my friends, I see as a way to help my area,” Bentley said. “So, my friends, I respect you, I honor you, but I’m voting for this bill.” Asked why they would restrict the governor to considering a smaller group of people, the committee chairman, Smith, and state Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, who made the motion for the bill, both said that was simply what the governor requested. Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at ajc.com/news/georgia-government/.
  • Delta Air Lines just can’t seem to catch a (tax) break from the Georgia General Assembly. Last session, lawmakers nixed a proposed break on jet-fuel taxes — which would have saved Delta $40 million a year — after the airline broke marketing ties with the National Rifle Association following a Florida school shooting. About two weeks after the Georgia House overwhelmingly approved a 20-year exemption on state jet-fuel taxes — a measure backed by Gov. Brian Kemp — a key Senate committee on Wednesday moved instead to impose a big excise tax on fuel that Delta and other airlines use. In addition, they tied what was once a tax-break bill to a proposal already approved by the Senate — and opposed by Delta’s CEO — to create an authority to oversee Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The rewritten legislation was sold to the Senate Finance Committee, which approved it 5-4, as a way to greatly increase the amount of money the state spends to improve about 100 small-town airports across Georgia. “Aviation infrastructure in our state is very important for a multitude of different reasons, rural economic development being paramount,” said state Sen. Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla, who proposed a 10-cents-per-gallon excise tax on aviation fuel, including jet fuel. The measure would also allow local governments to impose a 1 percent sales tax on aviation fuel. Harper said the excise tax would raise about $120 million a year, which still wouldn’t be enough to meet all the needs of rural airports. “We have very good aviation infrastructure currently, but there are some issues, and we’ve got to address those,” Harper told colleagues. Opponents of the move, including Delta officials, said if approved, the new taxes would make Georgia less competitive with other states that have lower or no jet-fuel taxes. “This legislation could create the highest effective rate in the nation. Going from zero to the highest,” said state Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R-Douglas, a floor leader for Kemp. Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said the company applauded Kemp’s original proposal to “keep the state of Georgia competitive in global aviation by reducing sales taxes on jet fuel.” But he added, “The changes to the legislation today by the Senate Finance Committee would have the exact opposite effect as the governor’s proposal. “By doubling the tax rate that airlines pay in the state of Georgia and making Georgia the highest jet-fuel tax state in the country among states with hub airports, it would make the state less competitive and give commercial aviation reason to grow somewhere other than the state of Georgia.” The measure could be voted on by the full Senate in coming days. The bill is seen as an attempt to force movement on the airport authority legislation, which is in the House and hasn’t come up for a vote. Such late-session brinkmanship is common in the General Assembly, which is supposed to leave town April 2. The House is unlikely to go along with the jump in taxes for Delta and other airlines, even if the bill passes the Senate. Kemp’s floor leader is sponsoring House Bill 447 — which would suspend jet-fuel taxes for 20 years. And Delta’s team of lobbyists includes the son of House Speaker David Ralston, who has strongly endorsed the tax cut on jet fuel. Earlier this month the Senate passed a stand-alone bill, Senate Bill 131, to create a state airport authority to run the Atlanta airport. State senators have said amid a federal investigation into corruption at Atlanta City Hall, they want to protect the state’s economic engine from mismanagement. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and other city and airport officials have voiced staunch opposition to a state takeover of the airport. Kemp has not yet taken a formal stance on the airport takeover issue and has said he’s watching the process. While the state has pushed for control of the Atlanta airport for decades, this year is the first time such an attempt has gotten this far in the Legislature, fueled by charges against former Atlanta city officials and a shift in city-state relations. City officials have said there are barriers that could block a state takeover, including Federal Aviation Administration policy and language in airport bond documents and Delta’s lease. The matter will likely end up in court if the General Assembly passes the authority bill. The tax break on jet fuel was initially approved in the mid-2000s when Delta was in financial trouble. It was renewed every few years before the company’s CEO ran afoul of lawmakers in 2015. Then-Gov. Nathan Deal tried to bring it back last year, only for it to pass the House and stall in the Senate after Delta broke ties with the NRA, a political no-no, particularly in a year when Republicans were set to battle it out for the party’s nomination for governor. Deal responded after the 2018 session by having the state stop collecting the local portion of the tax on July 1, and then he signed an executive order suspending collections of the state portion of the tax. The General Assembly backed the executive order and tax break — through June 30 — during a special session last fall. Kemp’s proposal this year would keep the suspension but include a small excise tax on fuel that would raise $3.5 million to $4 million a year. The money would be used as a local match to obtain federal funding, which would be spent on small-town airports. LaRiccia said the Senate Finance Committee passed the new version of the bill Wednesday without an official estimate — called a fiscal note — of how much it would cost airlines and other users of aviation fuel. Harper’s projection of how much it would raise was an estimate. LaRiccia said he didn’t see the Senate Finance proposal until an hour before the meeting, and that taxing the fuel airlines use would be bad for the state’s economy. “Input cost taxes will drive businesses out of this state, rather than into it,” LaRiccia said. But state Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, a member of the committee, said Delta and other airlines have had tax breaks off and on for several years without their customers seeing an obvious benefit. “Through this whole period of time when there have been exemptions on jet-fuel taxes, there has been no reduction in ticket prices,” Heath said. “That has been added to the bottom line of a few select (companies).”
  • U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson forcefully defended his late colleague John McCain on Wednesday, calling President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the Vietnam War veteran “deplorable.”  In an interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Political Rewind,” the Senate Veterans Affairs chairman voiced support for the military and promised to “speak out” against people who denigrate veterans.  “It’s deplorable what (Trump) said,” the three-term Republican told host Bill Nigut. “That’s what I called it from the floor of the Senate seven months ago. It will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again, and I will continue to speak out.” Isakson’s remarks were not new but highly anticipated.  He attracted national attention earlier in the day for comments he made to The Bulwark that promised a severe reprimand of the president. Isakson’s appearance on GPB ultimately fell short of that, but his remarks still represented the Senate GOP’s loudest defense of McCain since Trump renewed his criticism of the Arizona Republican over the weekend.  The president hammered McCain for his vote against the party’s Obamacare repeal bill and his handling of the Russia dossier.  On Wednesday, he told a crowd in Lima, Ohio that he “never liked” McCain much and that he “gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted” but never received a thank you.  McCain died Aug. 25 of brain cancer.   Several Senate Democrats have decried Trump’s comments about the former prisoner of war, and Utah Republican Mitt Romney also tweeted his disappointment.  Other Republicans stayed silent or offered tepid rebukes of the president’s remarks.    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted on Wednesday that McCain’s “memory continues to remind me every day that our nation is sustained by the sacrifices of heroes.” Despite his cross words, Isakson declined to personally attack the president when Nigut asked about Trump’s stability. In his interviews with Nigut and The Bulwark, Isakson raised concerns about the message Trump’s criticism of McCain would send to young people about respecting veterans.  “There aren’t Democratic casualties or Republican casualties on the battlefield. There are American casualties,” he said on GPB. “We should never reduce the service they’ve given this country.”  Wednesday was not the first time Isakson took a shot at the president for his treatment of McCain.  He took to the Senate floor shortly after McCain’s death to voice his displeasure after the White House quickly raised its flags from half to full staff, which he viewed as a sign of disrespect.  “I would say to the president or anybody in the world, it's time to pause and say ‘this was a great man,’” Isakson said at the time. “He gave everything for us. We owe him nothing less than the respect that he earned.” In that same speech, Isakson spoke critically of his own choice to serve in the Georgia National Guard rather than going to Vietnam and also alluded to Trump’s draft deferments.   Overall, Isakson has adopted an arms-length approach to the president.  He endorsed him ahead of the Republican convention in 2016 but has since kept his distance.  He has  pointedly criticized Trump’s actions on occasion, such as after the Charlottesville march and his “shithole countries” comment. Still, Isakson has voted with the president’s top legislative priorities more than 91 percent of the time, according to the political blog FiveThirtyEight - most recently on Trump’s border emergency. The two have also had a productive relationship on veterans legislation, partnering on overhauls to the department’s employee accountability and private health care rules. Read more:  Even in a deeply split D.C., Isakson still plies his deal-maker skills  Isakson: Anyone who tarnishes McCain deserves a ‘whipping’ Johnny Isakson’s Vietnam confessional on John McCain Georgia officials celebrate John McCain’s ‘unflinching integrity’
  • Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday threatened “executive action” if the General Assembly does not pass legislation to free up competition for hospitals. Kemp, for the first time, backed the most sweeping of the proposals that legislators have suggested on the subject, called certificate of need, or CON, saying the version proposed by a special House committee earlier this year must be made law. “I applaud the House Rural Development Council’s hard work over the past several months,” Kemp said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If the legislature does not adopt their common sense reforms, I will explore executive action to put patients — not the status quo — first.” That proposal would virtually eliminate CON within the Atlanta region and significantly weaken it in the rest of the state. CON is meant to protect the bottom line of nonprofit hospitals, which are mandated to provide care to patients whether or not they can pay. Hospitals fear that if given free rein, health care businesses would pop up to cherry-pick their few profitable services, such as outpatient surgery, and leave them with the money-losers. Under the current CON system, a health care business that wants to start up or expand must obtain a certificate from the state saying the new service is needed. Health care entrepreneurs say the CON regulation prevents good businesses from opening, hurts creativity and innovation, and deprives patients of choices. In staking out his stance, Kemp said he was “committed to pursuing free-market solutions that lower healthcare costs, eliminate barriers to access, and improve quality of care in every region of our state.” Hospitals have countered that health care is not a free market. They are asked to provide services that private businesses are not. And they are required by law to treat patients who can’t pay in much greater numbers than private businesses are. Hospital groups fought hard against the House Rural Development Council’s proposals. The Georgia Hospital Association said CON “ensures access to care for all Georgia patients, especially the uninsured, underinsured and rural communities.” It was unclear exactly what executive action Kemp could take. CON requirements are written in law. However, it is the Department of Community Health, under the executive branch, that decides whether to issue the certificates. There are rules and regulations that officials may try to maneuver around. In addition, Kemp’s administration could pursue the priorities and legislative initiatives of critics of the CON legislation. Several bills to ease CON rules died in the House and Senate on Crossover Day, each failing to attract enough votes to pass a chamber by the legislative deadline. But lawmakers can still insert the language they want in other bills that did pass a chamber and see if they can find the votes to pass the new version. One such effort appeared in the Senate Finance Committee without warning Wednesday afternoon, amended to House Bill 186. But it would not come close to the broad changes Kemp is seeking. HB 186 as it’s now written would free the Cancer Treatment Centers of America from restrictions over how many in-state patients it is allowed to treat, and allow it to increase the number of its beds like other hospitals do. It would not unleash the profusion of multispecialty outpatient surgery centers that hospitals fear. It passed the committee. Unlike the changes Kemp is calling for, the Georgia Hospital Association supports HB 186. State Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, had sponsored a CON bill that attempted to make the extensive changes Kemp advocated. That bill died in the House, but Hatchett vowed to continue looking for ways to revive it. He said of the new HB 186, “there’s some pieces to that I like,” and he wouldn’t rule out reviving his own legislation. “Nothing’s dead til Sine Die,” the last day of the session, he said. Bills have until April 2 to pass the General Assembly this year.
  • Legislators scrambled to fix Georgia’s DUI law after the state’s highest court ruled last month that refusing to take a breathalyzer test can’t be used in court against motorists suspected of driving drunk. But a bill up for a final vote in the state Senate on Thursday doesn’t reinstate mandatory roadside breath tests. Drunken driving cases will remain harder to prove because of the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision. Police will need to bring suspects in for blood tests to find out their intoxication levels. The legislation simply changes the language officers read after they pull drivers over so that it’s consistent with the court’s ruling. Police will no longer tell suspects that their refusal to submit to breath testing could be used against them. Without the bill, drunken drivers could say police coerced them into handing over evidence, said state Rep. Steven Sainz, the sponsor of House Bill 471. Police can still ask drivers to voluntarily take breathalyzer tests, and they can require blood and urine tests. Lawmakers couldn’t do more this year, so soon after the court’s ruling, Sainz said. It would take an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to override the Georgia Supreme Court’s opinion that requiring breathalyzer tests is a violation of protections against self-incrimination. “We all understand we need a fix now and then look at what we’re really going to do to ensure DUI compliance,” said Sainz, a Republican from Woodbine. “Anyone who’s in a car in Georgia deserves to know that we’re prosecuting DUIs effectively, efficiently and legally, and that folks aren’t getting off on an unnecessary technicality.” In the meantime, police and prosecutors will gather evidence besides breathalyzer tests in drunken driving cases, said Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard, a member of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. Officers can use dashboard video footage showing when drivers are swerving and speeding. Police can also tell juries about slurred speech, open containers and field sobriety tests. “We’re not using the refusal to take a test anymore because the Supreme Court has said we can’t,” said Woodard, who prosecutes state misdemeanor crimes. “You still have really unsafe driving or physical manifestations where people behave in a way that people can tell they’re not driving safely.” Many drivers will agree to take breathalyzer tests even though police can’t force them to, said Ray Giudice, a defense attorney who handles DUI cases. Drivers are considered drunk in Georgia if tests show they have alcohol concentrations above 0.08 grams. “If you’re pulled over by law enforcement at 2 in the morning and the man with blue lights, a badge and a gun is asking you questions, it’s pretty tough to formulate a legal strategy on your feet on the side of the road,” Giudice said. “If you really had just those two beers, my thought has been to just take the test. You’ll either be under the limit or so close to the limit that you can manage the case.” While refusing to take a breathalyzer test can’t be used against defendants in a criminal case, their unwillingness could still result in an automatic one-year suspension of their driver’s licenses. License suspensions are considered an administrative penalty rather than a criminal punishment. Defense attorneys will likely fight those suspensions, which were left in place by the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision, Elliott v. the State. State lawmakers and prosecutors might also review whether to continue automatic suspensions for refusing a breathalyzer test, Woodard said. Most punishments for breaking the law are imposed only after someone is convicted. Police are already adapting to breathalyzer restrictions. For example, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office has stopped giving motorists suspected of driving drunk the option of voluntarily taking a breathalyzer test, Capt. Brad Wolfe said. Instead, deputies bring drivers into the Sheriff’s Office, which works with a company that draws blood and delivers it to the crime lab. “Drivers shouldn’t feel any different than they ever did,” said Wolfe, who oversees the office’s patrol divisions. “It’s still a very real possibility that they could be arrested and prosecuted for DUI. That (court ruling) just took away one tool.” While the bill in the Senate on Thursday only deals with the language police officers use on drunken driving suspects, additional changes to Georgia’s DUI law might come next year, said state Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Republican from Dacula. “There is consideration being given to amending Georgia’s Constitution” to allow defendants’ refusal to take breathalyzer tests to be used against them in court, Efstration said. “Going forward, I expect more substantive policy discussions about other possible changes to strengthen DUI laws.” Amending the state constitution would require two-thirds majorities in both the state House and Senate, followed by approval from a majority of Georgia voters.
  • Vice President Mike Pence will be in town on Thursday afternoon for a two-part visit.  He’ll tour the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Atlanta field office, then head to a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who is up for re-election next year. This is the VP’s first public trip to Georgia in 2019.  He quietly traveled to the state earlier this month for a private retreat hosted by the American Enterprise Institute on Sea Island.  His last official visit was in November, when he stumped for then-gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. He also flew to the state earlier in the fall to tour damage from Hurricane Michael. Pence’s former top aide Nick Ayers recently moved back to Georgia after declining an offer to become President Donald Trump’s chief of staff.  Staff writer Jeremy Redmon contributed to this article.  This story first appeared in today’s morning Jolt. Read that here. 
  • President Donald Trump could siphon upwards of $260 million from Georgia military construction projects to pay for a wall on the Southern border, according to a Pentagon estimate being circulated by Senate Democrats.  Funding for more than a half-dozen Army, Navy and Air Force projects from Albany to Augusta could be affected. That includes $99 million for a cyber instructional facility at Fort Gordon, nearly $31 million for a hangar at Moody Air Force base and more than $75 million for a combat vehicle warehouse and body repair shop at Albany’s Marine Corps Logistics Base.  It’s still unclear which specific projects the Trump administration will effectively delay to cover $3.6 billion in new border barrier, and not all of the projects on the Pentagon’s $12.9 billion list will ultimately be tapped for funding. Still, the list is the most concrete to emerge since President Trump declared a national emergency on Feb. 15. The White House has broad authority under such a declaration to divert funding from military construction projects, and it until recently had balked at Democrats’ request for a list of projects on the chopping block.  Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said Monday that the Pentagon will only select from projects with contracts that have not been awarded before Oct. 1, 2019. He emphasized that no military housing would be affected.  Democrats have accused Shanahan of hiding the list of projects as lawmakers considered a resolution disapproving of border move over the last several weeks. Both chambers of Congress ultimately passed that Democrat-authored resolution, resulting in the first veto of Trump’s presidency.  None of Georgia’s 16 members of Congress have weighed in on the list, which was sent to lawmakers late Monday. That includes the Georgians who serve on the House and Senate Armed Service committees and budget-writing appropriations panels.  The disapproval resolution divided the delegation along strict party lines. But the vote total obscured what had been a tough decision for many Republicans who have spent their Washington careers seeking to protect the state’s nine military bases but are also under immense pressure to support the president’s every move.  U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the emergency “a slap in the face to our military that makes our border and the country less secure.”  Trump is “planning to take funds from real, effective operational priorities and needed projects and divert them to his vanity wall. That may help shore up his political base, but it could come at the expense of our military bases and the men and women of our Armed Forces who rely on them,” said Reed, whose office released Shanahan’s document.  Democrats are not expected to secure enough support to override the president’s veto when House members cast their votes next week.  The Pentagon list included $271 million worth of Georgia projects, but funding for at least one of the eight local projects has already been taken off the table. The Army awarded a contract last month for the construction of a 12-story air traffic control tower at Fort Benning. Read more:  Isakson, Perdue vote to uphold Trump’s border emergency Georgia U.S. House members vote with parties on Trump emergency How Isakson approached the border emergency debate  Trump’s emergency declaration draws support, protests in Georgia Isakson is wary of a Trump declaration of emergency Savannah port boosters: Fed funding safe under national emergency Search for wall funds could hit Georgia projects White House: Trump won’t tap Tybee, natural disaster funding to bankroll wall