Congress hands Donald Trump a condemnation of white supremacy

Protesters march past the Durham County jail toward the site of the toppled Confederate statue, after a court hearing for several activists who were charged for the action on Tuesday. Casey Toth/The Herald-Sun via AP

The U.S. House on Tuesday gave unanimous approval to a resolution that condemns white supremacists and urges President Donald Trump to speak out against racism. From The Hill newspaper:

The bipartisan resolution now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature, making it the first formal response by Congress to the violence that broke out during a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., last month.

 “Tonight the House passed my resolution condemning hate groups & the Charlottesville attack. POTUS should sign a clear message & sign it ASAP,” tweeted Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), one of those who introduced the resolution.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was a co-sponsor of the measure as well.

Give Congress all the kudos it deserves — Gallup puts its approval rate at 16 percent this morning. But for some reason, at least in the House, this feels like a bit of payback from Republicans angered by the debt-ceiling deal Trump cut last week with Democrats.

On the other hand, this is the second time Congress has forced the president to put his signature to a measure that criticizes him. The first was legislation that prohibits the lifting of sanctions on Russia without congressional approval.

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In today’s Savannah Morning News, Bill Dawer has some rare criticism of the state reponse to Hurricane Irma. Even as signs began pointing to Irma’s westward shift, he writes:

At a Friday press conference, state leaders were still urging evacuees to flee west, and one official even urged coastal evacuees to consider camping at Georgia state parks, even though the forecast at that precise moment called for the possibility of tropical storm conditions across most of the state.

As late as Saturday, when it was clear that Savannah would escape a direct hit, residents were being piled into buses headed for Augusta — arguably a less safe location.

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The Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic party is coalescing around the expansion of Medicare into a universal health insurance program. The Washington Post reports that, when Sanders introduces his bill today, he’ll have the backing of at least 15 Democratic senators — a record level of support for an idea that had been relegated to the fringes.

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Members of Congress on Tuesday called on federal authorities to investigate the sale of nearly $2 million in shares of Equifax by company executives after a massive data breach, and one compared their actions to insider trading, a jail-able offense. Read more from the AJC’s Scott Trubey here.

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A new super PAC intended to help Democrats regain some of the almost 1,000 state legislature seats lost to Republicans in the past decade is expanding its focus to 12 states, including Georgia, according to Axios. Forward Majority wants to put Democrats in better shape ahead of the congressional redistricting that follows the 2020 census.

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One of Tuesday’s stranger Twitter messages came from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee:

Leave @tedcruz alone! He didn’t like PORN-he liked CORN and it was his first overture to Iowa voters for 2020! Sheesh! Case closed!

Strange, that is, until you remember that in the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Cruz thumped Huckabee, 27 to 2 percent, quickly forcing him out of the Republican presidential contest.

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Georgia has a new go-to guy within the Republican National Committee. Josh Findlay was tapped this week as the committee’s state director after two years as U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s chief legal counsel and district director. He is also the co-founder of War Room Strategies political consulting firm. You might have first noticed him earlier this year, when he gamely handled hundreds of anti-Donald Trump protesters who packed a “mobile office hours” to rail against his boss.

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A magistrate judge has rejected a campaign consultant’s claim that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Belinda Edwards stiffed him on a $5,000 election bonus, according to the Daily Report. Dan Young claimed he agreed to accept a lower rate than his usual pay in return for the bump if Edwards won.

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With travel still iffy across much of the state, today’s scheduled meeting of the state Board of Regents has been cancelled. The next one will be Oct. 10 and 11 in Macon at Middle Georgia State University.

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Michael Williams, one of several GOP candidates for governor, can take something of a victory lap after a teacher was punished this week. The gubernatorial candidate was one of the most prominent voices calling for the ouster of a Cherokee County high school teacher who was caught on tape comparing a student’s “Make America Great Again” T-shirt to a swastika.

The school district quickly apologized for Lyn Orletsky’s actions and said she is no longer teaching the math class. Other disciplinary action against her won’t be disclosed, the school said. Williams had called for her firing, saying last week she “blatantly violated” the students’ free-speech rights.

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If Politico is to be believed, then it looks like U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, is not the favored child to lead the high-profile House Budget Committee, a perch once held by Georgia’s Tom Price.

The Washington news site reports that Woodall’s colleague, Arkansas GOP Rep. Steve Womack, is currently the favorite of senior Republicans, in part because of his fund-raising chops.  But it’s worth noting that, even if Womack gets the position this year, it’s possible Woodall could claim it in 2019, when Womack is in line for another leadership post.

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A new bill from Athens-area Congressman Jody Hice would limit the pensions and other post-retirement allowances given to former presidents and their spouses. The Monroe Republican said his “President Allowance Modernization Act” takes into account the plusher lifestyle of modern presidents, who rake in money from high-dollar speeches and book deals.

“With Americans looking down the barrel of a $20 trillion debt, we must find ways to reduce wasteful spending, and our former presidents will lead by example in cutting costs under this bill,” he said.

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Our AJC colleague Alan Judd reports about the latest directive from within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s press shop: Zip it! The agency’s head of public affairs reportedly instructed agency employees not to speak to reporters “even for a simple data-related question.” Judd tried calling the CDC’s Atlanta communications office Tuesday, only to encounter a recording that suggested calling again later.

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In an unusual op-ed in the New York Times, former President Jimmy Carter appears to wonder if the current digital era is the beginning of a new dark age. A taste:

Effective voter participation in governance and policy-making in the digital era will require additional protections for rights and freedoms such as freedom of expression and association and access to information — including the internet. Citizens will need better tools to assess the quality and accuracy of information, such as fact-checking apps that crosscheck information against recognized sources and databases.

We must also develop legal frameworks and technological systems that protect privacy and the security of our personal information, with processes for independent oversight. People must be able to learn what data is being gathered about them and who has access to it…

In these and other challenges, the enduring principles of democracy and human rights must be our guiding lights, or the digital future could be dark indeed.

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