Political Notes — Isakson, Perdue vote to kill the filibuster

[private]Georgia’s senators added their support this week to bring about a historic change in Senate rules: killing the use of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees.

Johnny Isakson and David Perdue voted along with their Republican colleagues on Thursday to use the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rule that had been in effect for more than 200 years.

The end result was Friday’s vote by Senate Republicans to confirm Neil Gorsuch as the newest member of the Supreme Court. The medically ailing Isakson was wheeled onto the Senate floor Thursday to vote for the rule change, but was flown back to Atlanta and missed Friday’s vote.

“Though I had hoped that my Democrat colleagues might be willing to put country over party and do the right thing here today, there is no reason for further delay of the Senate’s consideration of Judge Gorsuch,” Isakson said Thursday.

“Republicans this year have said all along we’ll do what it takes to get Judge Gorsuch the up-or-down vote he deserves, and next week he will be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court,” Perdue said.

The Senate has now deleted almost every aspect of the filibuster rule that for decades had allowed the minority party to block nominations or the passage of bills, forcing the majority to somehow round up 60 votes to invoke cloture and end the filibuster.

Under Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2013, Democrats changed the rule to eliminate the use of the filibuster on all presidential appointments not involving the Supreme Court.

Republicans have now killed the rule for Supreme Court nominations, leaving intact only the filibuster on the passage of legislation — which may not last much longer.

Jesup diverts coal ash dump

Opponents of a proposed coal ash dump in the Jesup area scored a surprising victory this week when Republic Services said it was withdrawing applications for federal and state permits that would have allowed the dumping of coal ash at its Broadhurst Landfill in Wayne County.

“We take great pride in being a good neighbor in Wayne County,” said Drew Isenhour of Republic Services. “Part of being a good neighbor involves listening, which we have done well and will continue to do.”

The announcement was made after three separate bills that would have clamped down on coal ash disposal were killed in the General Assembly.

“Republic’s decision is tremendous victory for the community and the people of Southeast Georgia and perfectly demonstrates how important it is for citizens to weigh in on major decisions at both the local and state level,” said Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick). “Now, coal ash storage will not impact the water that Southeast Georgians use to drink, fish, swim and play.”

Newspaper publisher Dink NeSmith, who’s been an outspoken opponent of the coal ash proposal, was elated with the development.

“There’s more work to be done, but Republic is listening,” NeSmith said. “I am grateful for them pulling the permit applications. Now, we can focus on what’s best for all.”

When bad news is really good news

The Georgia Ports Authority’s top official is trying to put a positive spin on this week’s disclosure by the Army Corps of Engineers that the cost of dredging the Savannah harbor will increase by 38 percent.

Sounding like the spokesmen for Georgia Power who try to mitigate the latest cost overrun at Plant Vogtle, GPA officials contend that the cost increase will actually mean increased benefits.

Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a statement:

Although the estimated cost of the project has recently increased to $973 million, the Corps has also released new benefit projections. The benefit to cost ratio of the project has significantly increased from 5.5:1, to 7.3:1 – one of the largest returns on investment on a navigation project for taxpayers in the country.

In addition, the net benefit of cost savings for shippers and consumers increased from $174 million per year to $282 million per year – an improvement of more than $100 million in benefit returned to the nation every year for the next 50 years. The expected total savings to the nation during this 50-year span is $14.1 billion, a 62 percent increase over the original estimated benefit of $8.7 billion.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: coal ash dumps , David Perdue , Jeff Jones , Johnny Isakson , Savannah dredging project , Senate filibusters