Sen. David Perdue column: Savannah Harbor deepening key to Georgia’s success
By U.S. Sen. David Perdue
March 25, 2019
For the past 20 years, career politicians have been trying to deepen the Port of Savannah five feet to accommodate new, larger post-Panamax ships. In the real world, people would have been fired for not getting the job done sooner.
Fortunately, President Donald Trump has broken through the gridlock in Washington, D.C.. He has announced full funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) for the third straight year. After 20 years of delays at the federal level, we are finally on track to complete this project by 2022.
This is huge news for Georgia and advances our country’s ability to compete globally.
The Port of Savannah is the most efficient container port in North America. It’s the third largest, and fastest growing, port in the entire country. The port consistently shatters records for container cargo moved, including a record 4.35 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) last year.
In 2018, total trade between Georgia and the world reached a new high at $139.3 billion. This would not have been possible without the Port of Savannah.
The new post-Panamax container ships now coming into the Savannah Port are three times the size of traditional ships. Today, these ships have to use the Savannah Port at about half their capacity. With a deeper port, these ships could double or triple the number of containers they transport today, which would bring shipping costs down dramatically.
Out of all port projects around the country, SHEP has the highest benefit to cost ratio: 7.3 to 1. The State of Georgia has already paid more than its fair share to make this opportunity become a reality. With President Trump’s commitment to this project at the federal level, the finish line is now on the horizon.
Our ability to grow exports is a prerequisite to grow our national economy. President Trump has consistently taken action to level the playing field and negotiate better trade deals with our partners around the world. The President has also made SHEP a top infrastructure priority in order to reach new markets and share American-made products with the world.
Of course, the Port of Savannah’s ability to excel is dependent upon a network of railways, roads, and warehouses to transport freight to and from the port. This is where Georgia really shines.
Georgia is currently building some of the most impressive supply chain infrastructure in the world. Two major railroads, CSX and Norfolk Southern, have locations at the Port of Savannah and are able to offer some of the fastest rail transit times in the country.
The Cordele and Appalachian Inland Ports provide direct rail routes to the port. Each container moved to and from these inland ports saves between six and eight million truck miles annually. An additional inland port in Gainesville is on track to be completed in 2021.
The Port of Savannah provides immediate access to two major interstates, I-16 and I-95. From there, trucks can reach 80 percent of the country in less than two days of driving time.
In addition, over three million square feet of warehouse space is available within 30 miles of the port.
Under the leadership of Govs. Sonny Perdue, Nathan Deal, and Brian Kemp, Georgia has become the No. 1 state in the country in which to do business. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will play a major role in continuing Georgia’s record of economic success, and its impact will be felt in every corner of our state.
Empty promises from politicians in Washington have previously kept the Port of Savannah from reaching its full potential. Completing this project will be a huge win for Georgia and our nation. Ultimately, on-time completion of SHEP is key to increasing our exports and continuing to grow the economy, and it is finally becoming a reality.
Read more in The Savannah Morning News.
Perdue Stands Firm With Trump In Battleground Georgia
James Arkin and Burgess Everett
Some Republicans facing tough 2020 elections are weighing a break with President Donald Trump on foreign policy or his border wall-driven national emergency declaration.
David Perdue is going the other way.
“Republicans have made a mistake in the past by running away from this president. I don’t see any need to do that,” Perdue, the first-term Georgia senator, said in an interview. “I support this agenda. I don’t support everything he says or how he says it, but this agenda is working.”
It’s a confident early stance from a Republican facing one of the toughest reelection races in the country next year — especially if he faces Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race by 1.4 percentage points. Democrats argue Georgia has shifted rapidly into battleground territory since Perdue romped to victory in 2014 over Michelle Nunn, the daughter of a legendary senator. And Perdue’s reelection is critical for Republicans to hold their Senate majority in 2020.
“It’s very competitive,” acknowledged Perdue’s Georgia colleague, GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson. “It’s going to be a horse race. You’re not going to be bored.”
Nevertheless, Perdue is pitching himself as the co-pilot of Trump’s first term. The CEO-turned-politician boasts about how his pull with the president has benefited Georgians on a variety of issues, including a disaster relief package currently working through Congress; the defeat of a border adjustment tax; and limits on potential additional tariffs. As one of the president’s top allies on Capitol Hill, Perdue rarely, if ever, seeks public separation from the commander in chief.
“I influence this president,” Perdue said.
Perdue doesn’t plan to run solely as a Trump ally, however, but to lean on his own record as a businessman still new to politics. He said he thinks he can maintain his status as an outsider even as an incumbent, running as someone “in the belly of the beast.”
Perdue pledges that if he wins his next term will be his last, but he’s running like his “hair’s on fire” as he prepares for the second campaign of his life. The Republican conceded he could lose, but believes his path to a second term is through framing his race as a debate between Trump’s policies in office and proposals from Democratic presidential aspirants, which the Republican senator boiled down to a “debate between free enterprise and socialism.”
“Nothing is for granted, nothing is guaranteed,” Perdue said. He added that when Georgia voters are “exposed to the facts about the ethos of what Democrats are perpetrating right now versus what is actually being proven to work, they’ll get past whatever I said or whatever Trump said or anything else, and they’ll do the right thing.”
Democrats eyeing Perdue’s seat aren’t so sure.
“Six years ago, I knew which base in Georgia is stronger — it wasn’t ours,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said of the effort to defeat Perdue. “We don’t know the answer to that question today.”
Perdue seems to understand that his state has morphed from fertile GOP terrain into a true battleground, as Democrats pursue a suburban strategy they believe will resonate in diverse Sunbelt states. But that doesn’t mean he will tack to the center politically: He’s essentially backing Trump’s agenda at every turn in the Senate and says if he disagrees with the president, he will do so in private.
Former Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) lost last year after initially equivocating over supporting Trump on Obamacare repeal, which Republicans say informs their future political plans. They say if senators are going to win red-leaning states, it’s going to be by riding with the president — and there’s no upside to breaking with him.
“Probably not in Georgia,” said GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of neighboring Alabama. “In California or Massachusetts, I’d think it would be a plus.”
Perdue fashions himself as a businessman, not a career politician, and has pushed internal proposals that have annoyed his more veteran colleagues. He’s led the charge to ax August recesses for the past two years, pushed major changes to government funding procedures and sought to change the GOP conference’s rules to more readily punish Republican chairmen that stray from the party line.
Last month, Perdue was overwhelmingly defeated on an internal vote that would have made it easier to strip GOP senators of committee chairmanships, a proposal he’s discussed in the past. GOP committee chairs Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain of Arizona voted against Obamacare repeal in 2017, and last year Murkowski opposed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“We have to vote our conscience, and it was disappointing for him to think that a war hero like John McCain should be stripped of his chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee over a disagreement on policy,” said Collins.
Perdue said his proposal was about more accountability and not aimed at a particular person. But he acknowledged he’s rubbed some of his colleagues the wrong way: “I don’t want this to sound arrogant, but I’ve got enough friends in Georgia.”
Back in Georgia, however, there are pockets that are increasingly difficult battlegrounds, said state Republican Party Chairman John Watson. Ground zero is the Atlanta suburbs, where Perdue won significant support in 2014 but voters moved away from the Republican Party in 2016 and last year.
Perdue said he thinks he’ll be able to win back some of those suburban voters. He argued that Trump hardly campaigned in Georgia during the presidential race, and Brian Kemp, the GOP governor, didn’t message to them, instead focusing on rural Republican turnout after emerging late from a primary runoff. Democrats flipped one suburban Atlanta House district and only narrowly lost in a second. But Perdue plans to target suburban voters rather than just ceding them to Democrats.
“They only heard one side of this argument in ’16, and they only heard one side of the argument in ’18,” Perdue said. “They’ll hear both sides of the argument in ’20.”
“He has worked the Atlanta suburbs over his tenure and continues to work them very hard,” said GOP Rep. Rob Woodall, who is retiring next year from his suburban Atlanta district after a surprisingly narrow victory in 2018. “While the governor’s race had a Republican rural strategy, David is working in every corner of the state to make sure he’s turning out the vote.”
“His values and achievements are ones that align very closely with Georgians,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Todd Young of Indiana. “He’ll end up winning.”
Democrats argue that Perdue’s embrace of Trump and the president’s position at the top of the ticket will continue the erosion of GOP support in those areas.
“In the suburbs, there’s a lot of potential for the Democratic vote,” said J.B. Poersch, president of Senate Majority PAC, a top Democratic outside group.
Watson, the GOP chairman, said Perdue’s embrace of Trump is a positive in the red-leaning state in a presidential year. But he also has little choice.
“For the senator to walk away would be just like so many other politicians that people can’t stand,” Watson said. “He’s raised his hand for this president, this party and Georgia is very favorable to the president and to change paths now would be very insincere.”
Perdue’s path will get significantly more difficult if Abrams joins the race — she is considering a Senate or presidential campaign, or another run for governor in 2022, and will decide in the coming weeks. But Perdue dismissed Abrams as a “state personality” and a career politician, saying she’d “never had a real job that I can tell.”
“I don’t think it matters who the candidate is, the issues are going to be the same,” Perdue said.
In 2016, Perdue told Trump he would safely win Georgia and should focus his efforts in Midwestern states even as Democrats started to talk up the Peach State as a potential battleground. Trump won it by 5 points, down from Perdue’s 8-point victory. Last year, Kemp won by just 1.4 points. Perdue says the trend doesn’t concern him.
“The ethos in Georgia is still there that elected Donald Trump. Don’t let anybody kid you about that,” Perdue said.
Last night, President Donald J. Trump laid out a powerful vision for America that continues to build on the successes of the last two years. Americans are seeing higher paychecks, more opportunities, and brighter futures for their families. The economy is now growing at twice the rate it did under President Obama. Over 4.5 million new jobs have been created. Total unemployment is the lowest it’s been in nearly 50 years, and African-American, Hispanic, and Asian American unemployment are all the lowest ever recorded.
Much has been accomplished. However, we still need bipartisan solutions to address rising health care costs, fix our broken immigration system, rebuild and modernize our infrastructure, and negotiate fair trade deals with partners around the world.
While President Trump delivered a positive message, Democrats sat on their hands. There is a clear contrast between the results we’ve seen under President Trump and radical Democrat policies that have repeatedly been proven to fail.
U.S. employers add robust 304,000 jobs
February 1, 2019
U.S. employers shrugged off last month’s partial government shutdown and engaged in a burst of hiring in January, adding 304,000 jobs, the most in nearly a year.
The strong job market is also encouraging more people who weren’t working to begin looking. The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are seeking one — which had been unusually low since the recession ended a decade ago — reached 63.2 percent in January, the highest level in more than five years.
2018 Was The Year Of The Turnaround
By Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)
America is experiencing the greatest economic turnaround in U.S. history. Two weeks after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, I was in a small meeting in the Oval Office to establish the agenda for 2017 and 2018. He said that job one was to grow the economy, and he laid out a plan to focus on regulations, energy, taxes and Dodd-Frank. President Trump’s agenda is working.
When I ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014, I talked about how $6 trillion was not at work in our economy. By rolling back regulations, undoing the most onerous parts of Dodd-Frank and changing the tax code to end the archaic repatriation tax, we’ve begun freeing up that $6 trillion to work in our economy. Look at the results.
More than 4 million new jobs have been created. Middle-class income is the highest it’s ever been. Total unemployment is at a 50-year low. African-American unemployment is the lowest ever recorded. More than 1,500 bureaucrats have been fired at the VA for poor performance. Consumer confidence is at a 20-year high. Small business optimism is at a 35-year high.
President Trump promised to be there for farmers in Georgia and around the country. In December, we got a good Farm Bill across the finish line.
The U.S. Senate has taken action to fill judicial vacancies. Eighty-five federal judges have been confirmed. Nearly one out of every six circuit court judges was nominated by President Trump.
President Trump has been successful in getting European nations to commit to paying more for NATO. We’ve begun rebuilding our military. We are closer to a level playing field for American workers and businesses because of new trade deals with South Korea and Canada and Mexico. We have brought China to the trade table and are working toward zero tariffs with the European Union. We have rebuilt relationships with important allies.
After years of disinvestment, President Trump had to rebuild our military and get our readiness going again. Georgia is playing a major role in this effort. Robins Air Force Base has been named the home of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System. The Army’s Cyber Command and Cyber School of Excellence continue to build their capability in Augusta. Production of the Columbia Class submarines that are coming soon to Kings Bay has been boosted.
Georgia is also seeing the results of the economic turnaround. Household income in Georgia grew by 4.3 percent in 2017. The population of Georgians living below the poverty line is the lowest it’s been since 2006. Unemployment claims in Georgia fell by 17 percent in 2017 and are the lowest they’ve been in 44 years.
These are the results of policies that boost private sector job creation and grow the economy, not government. Thanks to 16 years of leadership under Govs. Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal, Georgia has been named the best state in the country in which to do business for six straight years. Just as I worked with Gov. Deal, I am already working with Gov.-elect Brian Kemp to ensure Georgia remains the best state in the country in which to do business.
There’s much more work to do. Health care, immigration and infrastructure are at the top of the president’s agenda for this year.
Unfortunately, Democrats have shown they will do whatever it takes to obstruct this president’s agenda, including shutting down the government. Political self-interest cannot continue to come before the national interest. We must break through the gridlock in order to deal with the big issues, including the $21 trillion debt crisis. This year’s economic growth is the first step toward tackling this debt. Now it’s time for action to change Washington’s broken budget process, cut redundant agencies, save Social Security and Medicare, and get after spiraling health care costs. Each of these is critical to dealing with the debt over the long-term.
The results of 2018 are not just Republican talking points. They are American accomplishments, some of which were done with bipartisan support. In 2019, we have to keep up the momentum. At the federal level, the key question in 2019 will be whether House Democrats will work with the president to legislate, or will they yield to political self-interest and only investigate?