Neither Sen. Jon Ossoff nor Sen. Raphael Warnock are up for reelection this year — the former will run again in 2026 and the latter in 2028. But 2024 is off to a busy start for both senators.

For the past few weeks, Ossoff and Warnock have been helping Georgians across the state with issues, including: addressing leaders about the USPS mail delays; investing in clean drinking water; pushing for additional student loan debt relief; ensuring veterans have better support in maternal health care; planning to meet with Pope Francis to learn how to embrace your faith as a public figure in a world of division, and more.


Lead contamination 

On March 27, Ossoff launched an inquiry with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) into the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, responsible for recalling toys that could expose children to lead.

The inquiry would look into how the CPSC “conducts testing on products intended for children ages 12 and under for potential lead contamination and other safety hazards,” per a press release.

Ossoff is interested in learning how the CPSC overlooks third-party labs that test on children’s toys and if their “safety standards need to be updated.”

The Georgia Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention surveillance program found in 2023 that 5,031 Albany children under 6 years old tested positive for lead poisoning.

In the inquiry to the GAO, Ossoff wrote: “…questions remain about the effectiveness of the laboratory testing and certification regime in preventing toxic toys from reaching children. Additionally, as more is learned about the harm that can result from certain heavy metals and other substances that can be present in toys, it is critical for CPSC to revisit the adequacy of its current safety standards.”


Clean energy investments

On April 3, Warnock and Ossoff shared that the $2 million in clean energy investments delivered across rural Georgia counties will help farmers and business owners lower their energy costs.

According to a press release, investments will help farmers and business owners fund solar and electric energy upgrades, improving and lowering energy costs, "but also help generate new income and strengthen competition for U.S. agriculture products."

The investments were awarded under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America Program and made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, which both senators supported.

The investments fund 17 projects across 14 counties in rural Georgia, including Gilmer, Glynn, Jenkins, Johnson, Laurens, Lumpkin, Murray, Oglethorpe, Pulaski, Towns, Twiggs, Union, Walker and Whitfield.


On April 5, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff announced that he is delivering resources through federal funding to the historic Springer Theatre in Columbus to help cover the cost of repairs to the theater's roof and drainage system.

On April 5, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff announced that he is delivering resources through federal funding to the historic Springer Theatre in Columbus to help cover the cost of repairs to the theater's roof and drainage system.

Credit: Springer Theatre

Springer Theatre

With the bipartisan effort of both Republicans and Democrats, Ossoff delivered $460,000 to the Springer Theatre under the 2024 bipartisan government funding package, as stated in a press release.

On the Springer Theatre, Ossoff said: "Built in 1871, The Springer Opera House is one of Georgia's most precious historical landmarks… I'm honored to help support local efforts to repair its roof and ventilation systems to preserve this landmark community center for generations to come." 

For more on what the Springer Theatre CEO and Executive Producer Danielle Patterson Varner had to say about the grant, read here.


Clean drinking water

On April 11, Warnock and Ossoff announced that $25 million in federal funding would be given to rural and disadvantaged communities throughout Georgia, investing in clean drinking water. The investment provides PFAS testing and treatment in public water systems.

Per a press release, "PFAS "forever chemicals" can be present in drinking water or wastewater and contribute to a variety of harmful health impacts, including developmental challenges in children and increased risk of cancer."

Funding will help implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and help private wells owners tackle contamination. 

The funding for clean drinking water is under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which both senators have supported for its continuous investments across the state. 


Student debt relief

On April 12, Warnock applauded the Biden-Harris administration for canceling $7.4 billion in student loan debt, benefitting about 277,000 borrowers across the U.S., including about 11,500 Georgians. 

The applause comes after Warnock's continuous pushing for student loan debt relief, including his emphasizing the need for more student loan debt relief by highlighting the "role that one student loan service provider has played in blocking efforts to provide meaningful student debt relief" during a Senate Banking Committee hearing focused on the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA), per a press release

On the Biden-Harris administration forgiving more loans, Warnock said, "These actions are putting real money back in working people's pockets, and I'm going to keep pushing for the administration to do even more student debt relief because this is what delivering for Georgians and Americans looks like."

Those who benefit from this recent round of loan cancellations are borrowers who signed up for President Biden's Saving on a Valuable Education Plan and are eligible for its shortened time-to-forgiveness benefit, which helps borrowers with smaller loans and puts many on track to being debt-free at a faster rate.


Maternal health care for veterans

On April 15, Ossoff announced that he launched an effort to push the DOULA for VA Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation he co-sponsored.

The legislation would help in providing better physical and emotional support for pregnant veterans before, during, and after childbirth.

According to a press release, the DOULA for VA Act of 2023 “would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a pilot program that provides doula services for pregnant veterans enrolled in VA health care.”

A 2010 report by the Journals of Women’s Health found that it was twice as likely for pregnant veterans returning from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

“Many Georgia veterans face challenges accessing maternal health care through the VA. Our bipartisan bill would help connect veterans with qualified healthcare professionals to ensure healthy pregnancies and healthy babies,” Sen. Ossoff said in a statement.


USPS Postmaster general

On April 12, Warnock joined a group of Georgia lawmakers in pressing United States Postal Service leaders about the agency's implementing the "Delivering for America" plan following the delays in mail processing and delivery throughout Georgia.

The DFA plan, first introduced by USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in 2021, is a 10-year plan designed to "make the postal service profitable that includes consolidating key operations into a smaller number of larger facilities," per a press release.

Those that wrote the letter with Warnock are Georgia U.S. Reps. Lucy McBath (D-GA-07), David Scott (D-GA-13), Henry C. 'Hank' Johnson Jr. (D-GA-04), Nikema Williams (D-GA-05), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA-02) and Rich McCormick, MD, MBA (R-GA-06).

In the letter, they wrote: "So far, USPS has failed to live up to this standard in Georgia. Since the opening of the new Atlanta Regional Processing and Distribution Center (RPDC) on February 24, 2024, we have increasingly heard from Georgians about disruptions and delays in their essential postal services. As USPS implements changes to its network, USPS must ensure no Georgians, especially those with limited mobility options and urgent needs, are left behind for the sake of modernization."

In a separate letter to the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, McBath, Scott, Johnson, Williams, Bishop, Warnock and his colleagues requested "a report investigating whether operational changes will disproportionately affect Georgia's rural, minority, low-income, and underserved communities. The lawmakers reminded USPS of its fundamental responsibility to provide secure, accessible, and efficient services to all USPS customers, a standard that USPS is failing to meet in the state."

On Tuesday, April 16, Ossoff pressed DeJoy at a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in search for answers to the mail delays that Georgians have faced for the past few months.

“I’ve got constituents with prescriptions that aren’t being delivered," Ossoff said to DeJoy. "I’ve got constituents who can’t pay their rent and their mortgages. I’ve got businesses who aren’t able to ship products or receive supplies. 

"Let me be clear: I think postal workers are out there every single day working their hearts out to deliver the mail on time. But if they don’t have the infrastructure and the management competence overhead them to make a transition like this without drastically impairing the core function of the Postal Service, everyone in my state is losing. The amount of distress this is causing my constituents is massive.”

Ossoff raised the concern that the percentage of inbound mail delivered on time has dropped to 36% in the past few months. Per a press release, he pressed DeJoy for more “specific answers about what he and USPS will do in the coming weeks to solve these challenges.”

He said: “The long run is too long. You’ve got weeks, not months, to fix this.”

For more on Ossoff facing DeJoy at the Senate hearing and DeJoy's response, read here.


Vatican visit

On April 18, Warnock, also senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, announced that he was visiting the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis on April 20, discussing "how the pope models his faith in the public square."

According to a press release, Warnock "deeply admires the pope's efforts to center humanity in public life — from addressing poverty and hunger to fighting the climate crisis, to promoting peace."

Warnock hopes to learn how the pope uses his faith "to build bridges" among the many divisions in society.

During the trip, Warnock also plans to attend several meetings "designed to aid his work on behalf of Georgia through the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. These meetings include:

  • A briefing and tour of the NATO Defense College, as the U.S. continues working to strengthen the global alliance for democracy and transatlantic security amid Russia’s war in Ukraine;
  • A roundtable discussion with officials from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome, the U.S. Embassy in Italy, and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See on the role of faith-based organizations in humanitarian and development assistance, as Warnock continues pushing to provide humanitarian relief to crisis zones around the world, especially Gaza;
  • A meeting with Ambassador Jeffrey Prescott, U.S. representative to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome
  • A meeting with Executive Director of the World Food Programme Cindy McCain, as companies in Georgia continue playing a leading role in providing Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) to address hunger worldwide.

Editor's note: The senator round-ups are back! Former GPB intern and now Digital News Producer Ambria Burton is once again following the activities of U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Each week on Fridays, she'll run down a list of activities that follow your dollars back to communities in Georgia.