Taxpayer dollars at work: What your U.S. senators from Georgia are doing the week ending Aug. 25
This summer, GPB News Democracy intern Ambria Burton is following the activities of U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
Each week on Fridays, we'll run down a list of activities that follow your dollars back to communities in Georgia.
The U.S. Senate is in recess until Sept. 5 and is currently in a state work period.
This week, Ossoff and Warnock focused on providing counseling and mental health services to Georgia military families; delivering resources to improve early childhood education across Northwest Georgia; previewing new legislation improving workforce shortages in childcare; and upgrading Georgia’s Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.
The U.S. Senate passed the Military Families Mental Health Services Act, introduced by Ossoff and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), on Monday that will provide counseling and mental services to military families in Georgia under the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act.
According to an Aug. 21 press release, the legislation allows the Secretary of Defense to waive out-of-pocket cost for military families using TRICARE, a uniformed services health care program, "for their first three outpatient mental health visits per year, lowering costs and helping families access the treatment they need.”
On the legislation, Ossoff said: “Military service members and their families — spouses and children — are under a lot of stress. They’re moving frequently within the United States and sometimes have unexpected and extended deployments overseas. These are tough and often underpaid jobs under difficult circumstances.”
He adds, “I want to make sure that military family members also have access to the mental health services that they need. We can never do too much to support the service members who defend our nation and their families.”
Ossoff is delivering resources to the Tallatoona Community Action Partnership, Inc.’s Head Start Program to improve early childhood education throughout Northwest Georgia.
The resources under the Head Start programs will “help families in Northwest Georgia access early childhood education and developmental programs and give kids the opportunities to learn and grow,” per an Aug. 22 statement.
The programs provide services for children to improve their cognitive, social, and emotional growth by “supporting early learning and development, health, and family well-being.”
Tallatoona has Head Start programs in the following areas: Cartersville, Rome, Calhoun, Buchanan, Dallas, Cedartown, and Rockmart.
Warnock visited Savannah, Ga., his hometown, to tour the Early Head Start classrooms at the Economic Opportunity Authority (EOA) for Savannah-Chatham County. There, he heard from local early learning leaders about the workforce shortage issues surrounding the early education program.
As a Head Start program alumnus, Warnock also previewed his upcoming bipartisan legislation addressing the workforce shortages in child care.
The legislation will “allow students earning their Child Development Associate (CDA) degree to work in the classroom, provided they are working alongside a fully credentialed teacher, helping alleviate costs and bureaucratic barriers to developing a robust early education workforce,” as stated in an Aug. 22 press release.
Warnock intends to introduce the legislation in Congress this fall.
Naval submarine base
Ossoff is delivering upgrades for Georgia's Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base's electrical grids.
Per an Aug. 22 press release statement, the NBS Kings Bay upgrades "are a key part of ongoing infrastructure projects to prepare for the arrival of the Columbia Class Submarines, which is expected as early as 2027."
Ossoff helped approve the NBS Kings Bay upgrades under this year's Ossoff-led National Defense Authorization Act.