On the Friday, Feb. 2 edition of Georgia Today: Georgia sues the Biden administration over its Georgia Pathways program; and nuclear power Plant Vogtle faces more delays.

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, Feb. 2. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, Georgia sues the Biden administration over its Georgia Pathways program. Nuclear power Plant Vogtle faces more delays. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.


Story 1:

Peter Biello: President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden join grieving families at Dover Air Force Base this afternoon in a dignified transfer to honor three American service members killed in a drone attack in Jordan over the weekend. The solemn ritual that took place in Delaware has become relatively uncommon in recent years, as the U.S. withdrew from conflicts abroad. The deaths of the U.S. Army reservists, all from Georgia, were the first U.S. fatalities blamed on Iran-backed militia groups in the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October.

Windsor Forest High School Band Director Steven Johnson plays Amazing Grace to close out the memorial for Moffett at the school Thursday.

Windsor Forest High School Band Director Steven Johnson plays "Amazing Grace" to close out the memorial for Sgt. Breonna Moffett at the school Thursday.

Credit: Jeffery Glover / The Current

Story 2:

Peter Biello: Today, President Joe Biden was in Delaware to attend the dignified transfer of the three servicemembers from Georgia killed in a drone strike in Jordan on Sunday. In Savannah yesterday, one of the soldiers, Sgt. Breonna Moffett, was remembered by her high school's junior ROTC group. GPB's Benjamin Payne was at the ceremony.

Benjamin Payne: It was five years ago that Breonna Moffett marched alongside the JROTC at Windsor Forest High School.

Lt. Col. Michael Busteed: Present arms. Raise colors.

Benjamin Payne: On a sunny but somber day outside school, the course current cadets raised the American flag to Half-staff in her honor. Lt. Col. Michael Busteed was Moffett's JROTC instructor. He addressed a crowd of students, staff, and family members of Moffett.

Lt. Col. Michael Busteed: The minute you met Breonna, you knew she exuded that she was a very kind, loving, bright soul who cared about everyone around her.

Benjamin Payne: Standing next to a colorful wreath of flowers and a graduation photo of Moffett, Busteedremembered his former student as one of his go-to cadets.

Lt. Col. Michael Busteed: When things weren't going right, if they were kind of faltering. I knew I could go to Breonna. She'd carry that ball over the goal line. We were having trouble getting our military ball organized. She took the lead, made it happen.

Benjamin Payne: And she made lasting friendships. Busteed says that even after Moffett graduated, she would occasionally return to help cadets learn their drill and prepare for JROTC competitions.

Lt. Col. Michael Busteed: I tell my students, you need to choose your friends wisely. They can either bring you forward or pull you back. And everyone that chose Breonna as a friend was brought forward.

Benjamin Payne: Moffett died at just 23 years old but left an indelible mark on the school community, says Derrick Butler. He was principal of the high school when she attended.

Derrick Butler: She had a disposition about her very early on that when I saw her in the hall, I — I almost saluted her because she was very serious and very disciplined, and she carried with her those core values that I know her family instilled in her.

Benjamin Payne: Core values, he said, like leadership, which she exhibited as a drum major for the high school marching band. Moffett's former band director Stephen Johnson also honored her at the gathering. Not through words, but music. Playing his trombone to end the ceremony for Sgt. Breonna Moffett. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Savannah.


Story 3:

Peter Biello: The state of Georgia is suing the Biden administration to extend its Georgia Pathways program until 2028. Georgia Pathways is the only Medicaid program in the country with a work requirement. It launched in July and is set to expire in September 2025. The federal government signed off on the Georgia Pathways program under the Trump administration, but the Biden administration revoked the work requirement and another aspect of Pathways. The state filed suit, and a federal judge reinstated both parts of the program in 2022, saying the revocation was arbitrary and capricious. Now, the state wants those three years added back to the clock. In a letter last December, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services declined to extend it after the state requested an amendment, telling the state it needed to request an extension, and added that the agency did not stop Georgia officials from implementing other aspects of Pathways when it revoked the work requirement. A spokesperson for CMS said in an email the agency does not comment on pending litigation.



Story 4:

Peter Biello: President Joe Biden will get a chance to fill a vacancy on the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Judge Charles Wilson says he plans to vacate his seat at the end of the year, pending U.S. Senate confirmation of a successor. The vacancy by Wilson, appointed by former president Bill Clinton, will not change the number of the court's active judges nominated by Republican versus Democratic presidents. It'll still be 7 to 5 conservative-leaning, but Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreiss says Biden's nominee still will make an impact.

Anthony Michael Kreis: Many of the people who are leaving the — the Courts of Appeals, who are appointed by Bill Clinton, tend to be more centrist to slightly left of center jurisprudential thinkers. And Joe Biden is replacing these individuals with a more diverse group of people, and they often tend to be much more to the left than the people they are replacing.

Peter Biello: The court hears cases on important legal issues, including civil and voting rights from three states: Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The White House could nominate a successor quickly.

Anthony Michael Kreis: It'll likely happen very quickly because the time is so short between now and the end of the current Congress. There also will probably have to be some consultation that will be had with Florida senators.

Peter Biello: Kreiss says that's because Wilson's seat is considered a Florida seat. Before serving on the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Wilson was the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida.


Story 5:

Peter Biello: A court filing says Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is involved in a, quote," personal relationship" with a special prosecutor she hired for the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump. But, Willis argues, there are no grounds to dismiss the case or remove her from the prosecution. Willis hired special prosecutor Nathan Wade in 2021 for her investigation into whether Trump and others illegally interfered in Georgia's 2020 election. An attorney for a Trump codefendant says the case should be dismissed due to allegations of their relationship.


Story 6:

Peter Biello: More and more young people are struggling with obesity and diabetes, especially in rural parts of the South. The annual Healthy Georgians report from Augusta University has suggestions for policymakers. GPB's Ellen Eldridge has more.

Ellen Eldridge: The report says they should focus on how to improve cardiometabolic health in the community now to lower the burden of heart disease and stroke in the future. That's what Biplab Datta says. He's with the Institute of Public and Preventative Health at Augusta University.

Biplab Datta: Very simple changes to our lifestyles. Let's say, for example, cut our sugar consumption or cut our sodium consumption or do, physical exercise on a regular basis. So these are very low-cost interventions.

Ellen Eldridge: He says the report is intended to stimulate conversations about public health needs and promote policy changes and greater community engagement. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.


Story 7:

Peter Biello: Georgia Power says vibrations found in a cooling system of its second new nuclear reactor will delay when the unit begins generating power. The company said yesterday that unit for at Plant Vogtle, near Augusta, now won't begin operating until April, May or June. Georgia Power says the problem has been fixed, but too much testing remains to make the previous target of March 30 when it comes online. Unit 4 will join Unit 3, which began commercial operations last summer, and two older reactors. The new reactors originally were projected to be complete by 2017 at a cost of $14 billion. The Associated Press estimates the costs are now more than twice as much.



Story 8:

Peter Biello: George's groundhog, General Beauregard Lee, has predicted an early spring. The groundhog emerged from his home in Jackson around 7:30 this morning and did not see his shadow. Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil also predicted an early spring.


Story 9:

Peter Biello: In sports, the Atlanta Vibe defeated the San Diego Mojo in the team's home opener last night at Gas South Arena in Duluth, bringing the team's record to 3-0. In tennis, Atlanta native Chris Eubanks and Sebastian Korda have given the U.S. a 2-0 lead against Ukraine in Davis Cup qualifying. Eubanks was making his Davis Cup debut. And in honor of Black History Month, the National Bobblehead Museum is offering a mystery bobblehead box that will send the buyer a bobblehead of a ballplayer from baseball's Negro leagues. And among the possible bobbleheads with Georgia connections: Hank Aaron, as he played for the Indianapolis Clowns. And there are also bobbleheads of Rap Dixon, who hailed from Kingston, Ga., and Josh Gibson from Buena Vista, as well as players from the Atlanta Black Crackers. Mystery boxes cost 20 bucks.

And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit GPB.org/news. And do subscribe to this podcast. We will be back in your podcast feed automatically on Monday with all the latest news. And if you've got feedback, send us an email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening and have a great weekend.


For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news

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