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 went back into session Sept. 5 after a nearly monthlong recess and state work period.

This week, Ossoff and Warnock focused on improving truck driving training in South Georgia, speaking out against the Republican request to redraw Alabama's congressional maps, surveying the damage left by Hurricane Idalia, and new legislation to prepare for the future workforce.


South Georgia

Ossoff is helping expand the workforce development opportunities in South Georgia by delivering new resources to the Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, increasing their truck driver training program and job creation.

A Sept. 5 press release states, "Wiregrass Georgia Technical College will receive $742,180 for the construction of a concrete practice pad and access road to support truck driver training workforce development."

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, which made the grant possible, the grant will be matched with over $300,000 "in local funds and is expected to create or retain 235 jobs and generate $40 million in private investment."


Alabama congressional maps

Warnock and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a joint statement following a federal district court decision in Alabama that rejected the latest Republican attempts at redrawing the state's congressional maps.

The court ruled out the redrawn congressional maps because they would have violated "federal civil rights law" and diluted "the power of Black voters," just as the state's original maps, which were rejected earlier this summer.

In a Sept. 5 press release, the two wrote: "Bad faith actors in Alabama and across the country have shown that they are dead set on making it more difficult for Americans to vote. While today's ruling is a short-term victory, we will continue our work to reintroduce the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to fully restore the Voting Rights Act and safeguard the fundamental right to participate in our democracy." 



On Sunday, Warnock and Ossoff visited Valdosta, Ga., to survey storm damage there after Hurricane Idalia. 

During their visit, the senators were at the Second Harvest Food Bank, where they participated in a briefing about recovery efforts and community needs. 

According to a Sept. 6 press release, they also interacted with volunteers who gave food boxes to community members.

Per the press release, "The senators heard from community members about the challenges facing local residents dealing with loss of food, power, and connectivity as debris still clutters roads and pathways, as well as recovery support for compromised housing infrastructure and local small businesses destroyed by the powerful storm."

As of yesterday, Valdosta received federal funds to help access storm damage following Ossoff and Warnock urged the White House to provide relief as soon as Gov. Brian Kemp requested it.


Future workforce

Warnock, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) introduced legislation that would increase federal investments in workforce training and preparing people for the future workforce.

The Investing in Tomorrow's Workforce Act ensures "that American workers have the skills needed to successfully navigate the transition into higher-skilled positions and in-demand industries," per a Sept. 6 statement.

The legislation comes after a recent study by the World Economic Forum showed that about 40% of workers will need to pick up more skills following a 2020 Georgia State University study that shows that nearly 50% of U.S. jobs are at risk due to automation.

On the legislation, Warnock said: "This is an opportunity to invest in a future-forward workforce, equipping individuals with the tools, resources, and education needed to thrive in our ever-evolving economy. This legislation marks a pivotal step towards ensuring our citizens are well-prepared to join the workforce of the future."


Atlanta VA Medical Center

On Friday morning, Warnock and Ossoff joined Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center renaming ceremony in honor of the late Sen. Max Cleland.

Warnock's bill to rename Atlanta VA Medical Center the "Joseph Maxwell Cleland Atlanta Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center" was passed in December and signed into law.