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 24, 2024, Warnock and Ossoff focused on improving substance abuse treatment for inmates, protecting national security at the southern border, removing hazardous materials from several locations in Georgia, and protecting elders from financial scams.


Substance Abuse

On May 16, Sen. Ossoff announced that he is joining a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce legislation helping to improve substance abuse treatment for inmates behind bars.

The STRONGER Act would help reduce recidivism, the tendency of a convicted person to re-offend, “by providing treatment for inmates with substance use disorders,” per a press release.

Essentially, the legislation would reauthorize the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners program, allowing state and Federal correctional facilities “to use federal grant funding for medication-assisted drug treatment.” It also requires that staff at correctional facilities are trained on the science behind addiction and promote plans for substance abuse care during and after incarceration.

“Our bipartisan bill will increase access to substance abuse treatment in prisons, reduce drug abuse and criminal activity behind bars and in our communities, and put more people on a path toward better and healthier lives,” Sen. Ossoff said in a statement.

The STRONGER Act comes after the National Institutes of Health found in studies that about 65% of inmates have an active substance use disorder. In comparison, another 20% did not meet the standards for an SUD but “were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their crime.”


USPS Update

On May 17, Sen. Ossoff issued a statement on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's failure to provide the senator's requested updates on the delayed mail issues affecting Georgia families and businesses.

In his statement, Ossoff writes that Postmaster General DeJoy's lack of care towards the failure to deliver mail on time shows he doesn't care about the distress it's causing Georgians.

Ossoff's statement:

"Postmaster General DeJoy's refusal to cooperate with basic Senate oversight is baffling and disturbing. It suggests that in addition to being incompetent at delivering the mail on time, he doesn't care about the Georgians in distress as a result of his incompetence. Prescriptions aren't arriving. Bills aren't getting paid. Ballots aren't getting counted. I will continue fighting for the Georgians suffering from the Postmaster General's failure. Further updates to come."

On ballots not getting counted, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Tuesday, the primary election day, at a press conference that the challenges with no excuse for absentee voting lies with the United States Postal Service.

"They really are going to have to step their game up coming in the fall," he said.


Commencement Speeches

On May 19, Sen. Warnock, one of the two sitting HBCU graduates in the Senate, delivered the commencement speech at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, to conclude his Southern HBCU Commencement Tour.

Sen. Warnock also delivered speeches at Georgia's Albany State University and Tennessee State University throughout May.

According to a press release, during all three commencement speeches, Sen. Warnock "urged the graduates to use their voices to be catalysts for change and to use their education to address challenges and lead in their communities."

Sen. Warnock also highlighted his work to secure HBCUs across the country, which has been $16 billion in federal funding since he came into office, with $267 million having gone to Georgia's HBCUs.


Pell Grant

On May 20, Sens. Warnock and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) led 41 Senate colleagues in urging via letter to improve the Federal Pell Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2025. 

The senators wrote the letter to Sen. Tommy Baldwin (D-WI), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), a Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.

According to a press release, the senators "request a discretionary increase to the award as Congress works towards doubling the Pell Grant for students."

"We remain concerned that the value of the Pell Grant has steadily declined since it was first created – now covering the lowest share of the cost of attendance in its 50-year history," the senators wrote. "Increasing the maximum award would provide a substantial investment toward reversing this decades-long decline."

The letter also requests that the allocation for Pell Grant expand eligibility for students who have been previously "excluded or cut out" from being eligible for the grant, citing students still struggling to meet their basic needs amid the pandemic.


Border Security

On May 21, Sen. Ossoff warned of a "grave national security risk" if the bipartisan border security bill is blocked in the Senate this week.

According to a press release, Sen. Ossoff is raises concerns “on the counterterrorism threat associated with unlawful entry at the southern border.”

“Every day Congress fails to act, the country is at increasing risk. Every day Congress fails to pass a border security measure, the risk increases,” Sen. Ossoff said in a statement.

He also said, “We have a border security bill co-authored by my Republican colleague Senator Lankford. It is imperative my Republican colleagues allow us to debate and amend this bill and that we pass a border security bill this week, not withstanding the former president’s demands that we do nothing.”

On May 22, Sen. Ossoff delivered a Senate Floor Address to raise concerns over the matter again.

“If the Senate fails to pass border security legislation, refuses to tighten asylum standards; refuses to hire more Border Patrol officers; refuses to expedite the removal of those who abuse our asylum system to enter the country unlawfully, our nation faces a grave national security risk,” Sen. Ossoff said in his remarks.


Senior Citizen Scams

On May 21, Sen. Warnock, as a member of the Senate Aging and Banking committees, joined Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in reintroducing bipartisan legislation that would help improve the protection of seniors from financial fraud.

The Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act would create a new grant program implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission "that would work closely with state securities regulators and insurance commissioners to protect senior investors," per a press release.

The legislation comes after a 2023 report from the American Association of Retired Persons found that older Americans lose about $28.3 billion a year to elder financial exploitation.

"All Americans deserve to be protected from fraudulent schemes, especially our seniors who have worked their entire lives to build a nest egg and create generational wealth to pass on to their loved ones," Sen. Warnock said in a statement.


Hazardous Substances

Sens. Ossoff and Warnock announced that they are delivering resources under the bipartisan infrastructure law that would protect several locations in Georgia from hazardous materials.


Floyd County

The senators are delivering $2 million to Floyd County to help expedite the cleanup of hazardous materials at the former Battey State Hospital in Rome, Georgia.

Per a press release, this location was part of a 132.5-acre former hospital campus in decline and vacancy since 2011, including 57 vacant structures in deterioration and buildings contaminated with metals and other contaminants.


Middle Georgia

The senators are also delivering $2.5 million across Middle Georgia to expedite the cleanup of hazardous materials in Macon, Milledgeville, and Warner Robins.

The city of Warner Robins will get $1 million, per a press release, "to conduct environmental site assessments and prepare a revitalization plan" towards the cleanup of 7.5-acre Commercial Circle Redevelopment area properties, which ran as several commercial and light industrial businesses from the 1960s to 2023.

The senators also delivered $1.5 million to the Middle Georgia Regional Commission in partnership with the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority and Baldwin County. The funding will also help conduct environmental site assessments and prepare a revitalization plan in areas of Macon and Milledgeville.

Those Areas include the 8-acre Gray Highway Auto Repair Facilities site located at the Gray Highway/Emery Highway intersection, the vacant 2,000-acre Central State Hospital Campus, and more, per the press release.



The Columbus Consolidated Government will receive $1 million to conduct environmental site assessments, develop an inventory of brownfield sites, which are abandoned sites, and "conduct community engagement and reuse planning activities," per a press release.

On the funding to clean up hazardous materials, the Senators said in statements:

"Above all this is about our communities' health," Sen. Ossoff said. "That's why Senator Warnock and I are delivering these historic public health and environmental cleanup efforts across the Chattahoochee Valley through the bipartisan infrastructure law."

"Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Senator Ossoff and I championed, we are announcing historic investments that will clean up former industrial sites dealing with environmental contamination," Sen. Warnock said. "As a voice for Georgia in the Senate I'm committed to environmental justice, and I'm so proud to see these funds flow to critical projects in our state that are going to promote better health, a cleaner environment, and better outcomes for hardworking Georgians."


Semiconductor Manufacturing

On May 23, Sen. Ossoff announced that Absolics, a subsidiary of SKC, will receive up to $75 million in Federal funding under the bipartisan CHIPS Act, which Sen. Ossoff pushed to pass through Congress.

The funding will improve domestic semiconductor production in Georgia, "supporting the construction of a 120,000 square foot facility in Covington and creating manufacturing, research and development, and construction jobs," per a press release.

Funding will also help Georgia become a leader in semiconductor manufacturing as Absolics manufactures glass substrate, an important component for next-generation semiconductor manufacturing.

"This is a great day for Georgia's economic development," Sen. Ossoff said in a statement. "When we set out to pass the bipartisan Chips Act through Congress, it was with this exact goal in mind. This historic Federal investment will create Georgia jobs, support U.S. national security, and bring more advanced manufacturing to our state."