Neither Sen. Jon Ossoff nor Sen. Raphael Warnock is 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. In this recurring digital news series, GPB follows your federal tax dollars back to the state of Georgia each week.

For the week ending May 17, 2024, Warnock and Ossoff worked in urging the Department of Education to call out a student loan servicer for their failures, providing relocation support for military families, honoring Vietnam War veterans with medals, and investing in Georgia's airports to upgrade their infrastructure.


MOHELA failures

On May 9, Sens. Warnock and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led a group of senators in urging via letter that the Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona hold MOHELA, the student loan servicer, accountable for its failures.

According to a press release, the letter comes a week the Department of Education (ED) announced that more than a million MOHELA borrowers will be transferred to other federal student loan servicers to “improve borrowers’ experiences.”

In the letter to Cardona, the senators wrote:

“We trust that ED and MOHELA will prioritize minimizing the processing delays and errors borrowers experience during the transfer. But ED must also act to impose accountability for MOHELA’s failures that occurred prior to this transfer.”

They add, “Given the sheer scope of MOHELA’s documented billing errors, poor customer service record, and other problems, alongside the company’s decision to avoid public and private accountability at every turn, ED should take further action to hold MOHELA responsible for its harms and to protect borrowers from future abuses.”

Based on a report from the offices of the senators involved, MOHELA made over 1.5 million more billing-related errors than the errors of the other student loan services combined, sent the wrong bills to about 280,000 borrowers, and did not send billing statements on time to 2.5 borrowers, causing about 800,000 to miss their loan payments by the due date.


Military families

On May 10, Sens. Ossoff and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve relocation support for Georgia servicemembers and their families.

The Relocation Assistance for Military Families Act of 2024 would require that the U.S. Department of Defense evaluate "current relocation assistance programs, listen to feedback from family support advocacy organizations, and report improvements and publish a best practices guide," according to a press release.

The legislation also requires that the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office will eventually look at the best practices to ensure it benefits military families to the highest degree.

“Servicemembers and their families make tremendous sacrifices to keep our country safe, and many face frequent moves across the country and around the world during their time in service,” Sen. Ossoff said in a statement. “That’s why Senator Rubio and I are introducing this bipartisan bill to strengthen relocation assistance programs and ensure they maximally benefit our heroic servicemembers and their families.”


Vietnam War veterans

On May 14, the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation backed and co-sponsored by Ossoff honoring Vietnam War veterans with congressional gold medals.

The Dustoff Crews of the Vietnam War Congressional Gold Medal Act honors the Dustoff crew veterans who "operated during the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1973, transporting and treating almost 900,000 people to medical facilities," per a press release.

The crews "saved lives by reaching the previously unattainable goal of delivering the sick or injured to an operating table within the vaunted “golden hour” –– the standard for best medical outcomes."

Ossoff said in a statement, "I see one of my most solemn duties in the U.S. Senate as serving Georgia's veterans and their families. This bipartisan bill, which we've now passed through the Senate, will honor these Vietnam veterans for their heroic service."

An important Dustoff crew servicemember likely to be honored with a gold medal is Maj. Charles L. Kelly, from Wadley, Ga., who was killed in action in 1964.


Georgia airports and aviation

Also, on May 14, Warnock and Ossoff announced that $120 million in federal funding would be delivered to upgrade Georgia's airport infrastructure.

Funding comes from the Fiscal Year 2024 Airport Infrastructure Grant program funding under the bipartisan infrastructure law and "can be used by local airports to upgrade runways, taxiways, airport safety, airport-transit connections, and roadways," per a press release.

In statements, both senators said:

“Georgia is one of the nation’s most important aviation states, and these major funding awards to strengthen our airports and improve the flying experience for consumers and workers alike are exactly the kinds of investments Senator Ossoff and I envisioned when we were pushing to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."

- Sen. Warnock

“Georgia’s airports are a key driver of job creation and economic competitiveness. Alongside Senator Reverend Warnock, I am pleased to announce the bipartisan infrastructure law will deliver over $120 million in funding for airport upgrades across the State of Georgia in Fiscal Year 2024.

- Sen. Ossoff

Additional action

On May 16, President Biden signed legislation, heavily promoted by Warnock, that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.

The 2024 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization includes provisions that would transform the aviation industry by "strengthening the aviation workforce pipeline, addressing the current shortage of pilots, mechanics, and manufacturers, and investing in consumer protections and the safety of Georgia travelers," per Warnock's press release.

With the new law, aviation educational institutions can get the resources needed to train the current workforce. 

“Georgia is the country’s most important aviation state,” Warnock said in a statement. “We’re home to the world’s busiest airport and we have more than 100,000 aviation workers across some 800 different aviation companies. That’s why I’m thrilled President Biden has signed the FAA Reauthorization into law, including provisions I championed that will strengthen the aviation worker pipeline. This law will modernize our airports, improve the passenger experience, and keep us safe on runways and in the air. I’m proud to have played a role in getting these important policies across the finish line.


Service workers

On May 15, Ossoff announced he is delivering $250,000 in federal funding to expand outreach and assistance for Georgian food service workers under financial hardship.

Per a press release, the funding will provide financial assistance to Georgia food service workers "based on financial need due to injury, illness, death of an immediate family member, or disaster, like flood or fire."

Giving Kitchen, a national nonprofit organization that provides emergency assistance to food service workers, brought the proposal requesting funding to Ossoff's office to help maintain their goal of creating "a food service community in which crises are met with compassion and care."


National Scenic Trail

On May 16, Sens. Warnock and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced bipartisan legislation requesting that the Benton MacKaye Trail be named a National Scenic Trail in the National Trails System after a review.

The Benton MacKaye Trail is about 300 miles through the Appalachian Mountains, beginning at Springer Mountain, Ga., and spanning over 80 miles through Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

As stated in a press release, Congress may add the trail to the National Trails System after completing a study of the trail, "ultimately establishing a new, federally protected footpath that will improve mobility for Americans traveling in and between Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina."

“More than simply initiating a new federal walking path through our natural environment, this bill is an investment in our nation’s forests and green spaces, a bridge connecting communities, and a powerful catalyst for our rural economies,” Sen. Warnock said in a statement. “By preserving the natural beauty of our landscapes, we help protect the planet for future generations to enjoy. I am proud to work with Senator Tillis on this bipartisan legislation and look forward to getting it done.”

Benton MacKaye Trail becoming a National Scenic Trail designation would increase "the trail's value as a recreation destination," attract more hikers to the region, and "expand economic impacts for local north Georgia and Appalachian communities."


College Park

Also on May 16, Ossoff announced that he is delivering $959,752 in federal funding to upgrade the water infrastructure of College Park. 

The funding will help install a new water storage tank and booster system, ensuring that residents can access clean drinking water and "accommodate economic growth in the city," per a press release.

The funding comes after the area had a deep freeze, causing several breaks in East Point and Clayton County water systems. The deep freeze left many without water and left some businesses no choice but to close.