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Latest from Jamie Dupree

    Just over 24 hours after GOP leaders unveiled the details of massive plan to fund the federal government, the House and Senate gave easy bipartisan approval to the $1.3 trillion spending measure, even as members in both parties grumbled about the actions of their leaders, the process, the size of the bill, the amount of money involved, and the specifics. The final Senate vote – which took place soon after midnight – was 65 to 32 in favor of the over 2,000 page bill, which no lawmaker claimed to have read from start to finish. “Washington has reached a new low,” complained Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who ridiculed the increase in spending agreed to by both parties. “This is beyond pathetic. It is irresponsible, and a danger to our Republic,” Perdue added. “Our congressional budget process is badly broken, and this Omnibus bill is just another symptom of Washington’s sickness,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). As we consider this #Omnibus, remember: o Fiscal Year ended Sept. 30, 2017, nearly 6 months ago! o We’ve passed 5 Continuing Resolutions o National debt is $21 trillion o 2018 deficit could top $1 trillion o This bill is $1.3 trillion & 2,300 pages This is no way to govern… — Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) March 23, 2018 Among the many items in the final bill: + A big boost in defense spending, giving the Pentagon $700 billion in 2018, an increase of over $60 billion. + A substantial increase in domestic spending, highlighted by money for infrastructure, medical research and more. + Two bills pressed in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting – the “Fix NICS” bill that would funnel more information into the instant background check system for gun buyers, and the “STOP School Violence Act,” which would help schools better recognize possible threats of violence in the future. A rush to a final vote in the Senate was first delayed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who spent hours going through the bill, tweeting out what he found – but after about 600 of the 2,232 pages, the Kentucky Republican called it quits. “I will vote no because it spends too much and there’s just too little time to read the bill and let everyone know what’s actually in it,” Paul tweeted. “Every Republican would vote against this disgusting pork bill if a Democrat were President,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).  “This spending kegger is a wildly irresponsible use of the taxpayers’ money.” “Tweeting the 2018 Omnibus” https://t.co/qgTCivVbrX — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 22, 2018 At the White House, officials acknowledged that if the GOP had 60 votes in the Senate to stop a filibuster, they would have designed a much different bill to the fund the operations of the federal government through the end of September. But they still argued the measure funded a number of the President’s priorities. “It funds national defense,” said White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney. “It funds opioids, it funds school safety.” . @mickmulvaneyomb: 'Let' cut right to the chase; is the president going to sign the bill? The answer is yes.' #omnibus Full video here: https://t.co/cgs0h5pQBs pic.twitter.com/lrbKnBaGwU — CSPAN (@cspan) March 22, 2018 Earlier on Thursday, the House approved the bill on a vote of 256-167, as the two parties switched arguments from several years ago – when it was Republicans complaining about Democrats bringing a big bill to the floor with little time for review. This time, it was Democrats echoing the Tea Party line of, “Read the bill!” Today, I asked @HouseGOP Members to join me on the Floor if they have read the 2,200+ page funding bill that they released last night & we are about to vote on. Not one of them joined me. #ReadTheBill pic.twitter.com/n2xTXZFWHn — Steny Hoyer (@WhipHoyer) March 22, 2018 When the bill reached the Senate, Senators were ready to quickly approve the plan, and head out of town on a two-week break for Easter. But the fine print caused some troubles, as Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), reportedly objected to a provision put in the bill that would rename a park in his state after a former Governor, Cecil Andrus, described in home state press reports as a past rival. In the hallways off the Senate floor, Risch was not interested in discussing the Idaho dust up with reporters. Risch didn't want to talk to reporters. We asked multiple questions. Finally he stopped, looked at us and said 'no.' “What part of no don’t you understand? Do I have a problem with my English? I don’t have any comment on this.” Risch said. — Lauren Fox (@FoxReports) March 23, 2018 The hours of waiting, which included a procedural vote that called on the Sergeant At Arms to request the presence of absent Senators – left one short-timer aggravated. “This is juvenile,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is not running for re-election this year. “This is a ridiculous process that we go through where people extort us, until we get so tired, that we are willing to do whatever it is that they wish for us to do,” said Corker just before the clock struck midnight. Corker said it would have been better to come back at 8 am and vote, but he backed off that threat, and allowed Senators to finish work on the Omnibus, which funds the government only through September 30.    
  • President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he will be replacing his National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, replacing him with former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, in another big shake up on the White House staff. Making the announcement on Twitter, the President said McMaster had “done an outstanding job,” though there had been reports for months that Mr. Trump was unhappy with the Army General, who is reportedly expected now to retire from the military. I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
  • Continuing his campaign vow to get tough on countries which don’t play fair on trade, President Donald Trump on Thursday recommended slapping nearly $50 billion in new tariffs on products from China, as he accused the Chinese of stealing American technology. “This has been long in the making,” the President told reporters at the White House, as he said his pledge to do something about unfair trade practices was just getting started. “It’s probably one of the reasons I was elected, maybe one of the main reasons,” Mr. Trump said, as he has steadfastly resisted the calls of Republicans in Congress to stay away from tariffs on imported goods, which critics say are nothing more than a tax on American consumers. “We’re doing things for this country which should have been done for many, many years,” the President added. President Trump announces new tariffs against China, but says he views the nation as 'a friend' https://t.co/hgtRUmeXqe — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 22, 2018 Trump Administration officials will now go over proposals for tariffs on all sorts of goods imported from China, much different than the targeted tariff plan that Mr. Trump approved earlier this month on imported steel and aluminum. “It’s out of control,” the President said of the trade imbalance between the U.S. and China. At the same event, Vice President Mike Pence said today’s move against China again signaled that the “era of economic surrender” is over when it comes to the United States. “The United States of America is taking targeted and focused action to protect not only American jobs, but American technology,” Pence added. WATCH: “This is the first of many,” Trump says before signing a presidential memo targeting China’s economic aggression, imposing $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/41wAI6Kqh0 — TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) March 22, 2018 The reaction in Congress was much more muted than a move to impose new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum coming into the country, when a number of Republicans denounced the idea of tariffs, arguing it could spark a trade war. As the President’s decision was announced, Wall Street markets went down, with investors worried by a possible trade fight with the Chinese.
  • Ending weeks of negotiations between Congress and the White House, GOP leaders on Wednesday night released a $1.3 trillion funding plan for the federal government, an agreement that will result in over $100 billion in new spending in 2018, causing heartburn – and opposition – among more conservative Republicans in the House. Almost six months behind schedule on their budget work, lawmakers produced a mammoth bill, which weighs in at 2,232 pages, the product of extended talks that almost went awry at the last minute. The bill was highlighted by the inclusion of a number of non-spending provisions, like two measurse championed in the aftermath of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which would get more information into the background check system for gun buyers, and to help schools better recognize possible problems with violence. Each party had a laundry list of items that they trumpeted in a flurry of news releases sent to reporters – for Republicans, that often included more money for the Pentagon, while Democrats focused on more money for domestic programs. BREAKING: Budget bargainers clinch $1.3 trillion deal bearing big defense, domestic boosts, no protections for Dreamer immigrants. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 22, 2018 In all, almost 4,000 pages of bill text and supporting materials were released to lawmakers – almost impossible for anyone to read before the votes, which are expected on Thursday. But we did some speed reading – and here is some of what we found: 1. The Omnibus features more spending from budget deal. Following through on a bipartisan budget agreement from earlier this year, this funding measure adds more money to the Pentagon – raising the overall military budget to $700 billion this year, and $716 billion in 2019. This year’s hike was $61 billion: “This is the biggest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 years,” GOP leaders said in their argument to Republican lawmakers. More money is also added for domestic programs, but that did not match the defense increase, but it was still one reason why Democrats signed on to the agreement. The total for discretionary funding is $1.3 trillion, more than any single year of the Obama Administration. This critical funding bill fulfills our pledge to rebuild the nation’s military. It also addresses many of our national priorities, such as school safety, infrastructure, and fighting the opioid epidemic. — Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 22, 2018 2. More conservative Republicans not pleased. Even before the details were out on the Omnibus, it wasn’t hard to tell what members of the House Freedom Caucus were going to do on this bill – vote against it – even with the big increase in defense funding. “That is not in anyway close to what the election was about, close to what we campaigned on,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). “We all campaigned on changing the status quo,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH). “I think all of us agree we’re spending too much,” he added. But that was a minority view within the party, as GOP leaders focused more on the big increase in military funding. – Record spending levels – No wall/border security – Obamacare intact – Funds Planned Parenthood – Sanctuary Cities funded – Barely 24 hours to read a 2,300 page bill This Omnibus is so far from what the forgotten men and women of America voted for. I will oppose it. — Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) March 22, 2018 3. President Trump backs it with some reservations. After evidently wavering on the details during the day on Wednesday, the President took to Twitter a few hours later to trumpet some of the details in the agreement, and to knock Democrats for what’s not in the Omnibus – as there is no agreement dealing with younger illegal immigrant children, known as the “Dreamers.” “Democrats refused to take care of DACA,” the President said. “Would have been so easy, but they just didn’t care.” Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming. Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018 4. Trump could have had much more for border wall. While the President professed himself satisfied with $1.6 billion in money for border security, Democrats reminded him that they had offered $25 billion for the wall, in exchange for provisions allowing the “Dreamers” to stay in the U.S., and for many to get on a 12-year pathway to citizenship. But for a variety of reasons, the President did not want to accept that kind of an agreement with Congress, as both parties blamed the other for the lack of a deal. As for that $1.6 billion, the bill limits where it can be used: 5. NASA sees a budget boost. With the spending spigot open in this bill, there are very few mentions of cuts in the documents handed out by Republicans, as agencies like NASA instead saw their budgets boosted. NASA – which has drawn strong words of praise from President Trump since he took office – saw its budget go above $20 billion for the first time ever, jumping just over $1 billion. That will be good news to lawmakers in Florida – and many other states – which have a piece of NASA’s research and operations. 6. Omnibus includes funds for a new Hurricane Hunter plane. After a round of devastating hurricane strikes in 2017, this spending plan will direct $121 million to buy a “suitable replacement” for a Gulfstream IV Hurricane Hunter plane, which will insure that enough planes are ready for a busy storm season. For example, in late September and early October of 2017, one of those planes had three separate mechanical problems – but when it was grounded, there was no backup plane. That’s long been a concern for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and he noted the provision last night after the bill was released. Just learned that funding for another Hurricane Hunter jet is in the $1.3 trillion spending bill Congress will vote on this week. I've been relentless on this because 20 million Floridians are in the potential path of a hurricane & data from this aircraft saves lives & property. — Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) March 22, 2018 7. A big change for the Internal Revenue Service. After years of seeing budget reductions, the IRS was a budget winner in this Omnibus spending agreement, as the agency’s budget will go up almost $200 million to $11.43 billion. There will be $320 million specifically dedicated to implementation of the new tax cut law, which was approved late in 2017, in order to change all the forms, schedules, and internal systems to reflect those changes in tax year 2018. $350 million will be directed to improve IRS customer service, which has been suffering more and more telephone delays in recent years. It was a bit of a switch for the GOP to be bragging about how much money they were spending at the IRS, instead of vowing to find new ways to cut the budget at the tax agency. 8. Trump wanted to end transportation grants. Congress tripled them. One piece of President Trump’s budget plan for 2019, was a proposal to eliminate “TIGER” grants for infrastructure. But instead of getting rid of that $500 million program, Congress increased it by $1 billion, tripling the size of those popular transportation grants. Mr. Trump’s first budget also tried to get rid of the TIGER program, but when you look at the budget, you realize quickly that grant programs are popular in both parties, because they funnel money to the folks back home. 9. The ban on funding for a group that no longer exists. Once again, this year’s funding bills from Congress include a provision to make sure no federal dollars go to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, known as ACORN – even though ACORN has disbanded – that happened eight years ago, in 2010. But Republicans have wanted to make sure that any group which looks anything like ACORN, or might turn out to be a progressive grass roots group which acts like ACORN, doesn’t get any federal funding in the future. The new congressional spending bill once again bans funds for ACORN, an organization that once helped poor people but no longer exists. cc @zachdcarter pic.twitter.com/YJVQzOb4Fv — Arthur Delaney (@ArthurDelaneyHP) March 22, 2018 10. Death payment for a late lawmaker. Earlier this week came the sad news that Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) had died, after the 88 year old veteran lawmaker had fallen at her home. When members die while in office, it is customary for the Congress to approve a full year’s salary for that member’s spouse or estate. It’s officially known on a budget line as “Payment to Widows and Heirs of Deceased Members of Congress.” Looking through the fine print – it’s actually characterized as “mandatory” spending – and not discretionary. The House will vote first on the plan – most likely on Thursday. The Senate is expected to follow suit soon after. Lawmakers are then expected to leave town for a two week Easter break.
  • After weeks of negotiations, Congress unveiled a $1.3 trillion funding measure for the federal government on Wednesday night, adding billions in new spending for both the Pentagon and domestic spending programs, adding in a pair of bills dealing with school safety and gun violence, but including no deals on some politically difficult issues like the future of illegal immigrant “Dreamers.” The 2,232 pages of bill text were quietly posted by GOP leaders after yet another day of closed door negotiations, which included a trip down to the White House by House Speaker Paul Ryan. “No bill of this size is perfect,” Ryan said in a written statement, as he touted the extra money in the plan for the U.S. military. “But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad,” Ryan added. BREAKING: Budget bargainers clinch $1.3 trillion deal bearing big defense, domestic boosts, no protections for Dreamer immigrants. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 22, 2018 Among the items included in the Omnibus funding bill: + The bipartisan “Fix NICS” bill, which would press states and federal agencies to funnel more information into the instant background check system for gun buyers. + The “STOP School Violence Act,” which would send grant money to local governments to help schools better recognize possible violent threats in schools and their communities. + A series of corrections to the recent tax cut law. Even before the text of the bill was unveiled, a number of Republicans were not pleased, arguing the GOP has done little to merit the support of voters back home, saying it will mean more spending and a bigger government. “That is not in any way close to what the election was about,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who argued the President should veto the bill. Also causing some irritation was the fact that the bill was negotiated with little input from most lawmakers, and sprung on them just hours before the House and Senate were due to head out of town on a two week Easter break. We should have been on the House floor all year, in front of @cspan cameras, debating and amending spending bills. Instead, nearly all of Congress is waiting to see what omnibus bill emerges from the smoke filled room. Post offices are getting named… at least there’s that. — Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 20, 2018 It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni…wait, what? — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 21, 2018 “There is not a single member of Congress who can physically read it, unless they are a speed reader,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). One of the many provisions in the bill included a $174,000 payment to the estate of the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who died earlier this week. Those type of payments are typical when a lawmaker dies while in office. GOP leaders hope to vote on the Omnibus in the House on Thursday, as lawmakers are ready to go home for a two-week break for Easter.
  • Reviewing the reaction of the Obama Administration to signs that Russia was trying to interfere in the 2016 election campaign, Senators on Wednesday expressed frustration at the refusal of the Obama and Trump Administrations to publicly reveal the names of at least 21 states targeted by Russian cyber attackers in 2016, arguing there is no reason to keep that information from the American people. “America has to know what’s wrong,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “And if there are states that have been attacked, America should know that.” In a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said states which were victimized prefer to remain anonymous, giving no hint that the identities of those states would be revealed any time soon. “The 21 states themselves have been notified,” said Nielsen. “But people have to know,” Feinstein countered. Feinstein also pressed former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who defended efforts by the Obama Administration to both warn states – and warn the public about the Russian election threat. “Senator, the American people were told,” Johnson said. “Not sufficiently in any way, shape, or form,” Feinstein replied. Johnson acknowledged that an early October 2016 warning about Russian actions – issued both by DHS and the broader U.S. Intelligence Community – did not get the press traction that he thought it deserved, mainly due to other breaking news about the campaign for President on that day. “It was below the fold news, the next day, because of the release of the Access Hollywood video the same day,” Johnson said, referring to the tape of President Donald Trump in which he bragged about how he treated women, a revelation that roiled the 2016 campaign for the next several days. JEH JOHNSON says Access Hollywood video helped bury his warning about Russian interference before the 2016 election, points out October 2016 intelligence community statement about it was 'below the fold news' because of 'the release of the Access Hollywood video the next day.' pic.twitter.com/Uswnk7OM4t — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 21, 2018 At the hearing, Johnson did not mention what else was released on the same day – as just minutes after the Access Hollywood tape was made public, Wikileaks made the first release of hacked emails from John Podesta, a top aide to Hillary Clinton – all of that combining to overwhelm the U.S. government warning about Russian actions. In hindsight, members of both parties said it was very obvious that – at the time – Russia was actively trying to cause trouble in the 2016 elections. “Russian government actors scanned an estimated 21 states, and attempted to gain access to a handful of those,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “In at least one case, they were successful in penetrating a voter registration database,” Burr added. Burr said his panel’s investigation showed that DHS and the FBI in 2016 did alert states of the Russian threat, but in a “limited way,” which resulted in most states not treating the information as an imminent threat.
  • While the calendar may say it is spring, another winter storm threatened the East Coast on Wednesday, prompting the federal government to close down offices in the Washington, D.C. area, and canceling public events for President Donald Trump at the White House. While there was little snow on the ground as the sun came up on Wednesday, forecasters were warning of big snow totals from the nation’s capital, up the I-95 corridor through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But as the morning commute continued, there was little evidence in some spots of that storm. “Total accumulation so far 1” of Salt,” tweeted Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), as he documented empty streets on his commute to the U.S. Capitol, as lawmakers from the heartland subtly mocked the snow scare. Sure makes the morning commute easier when schools are out and the Federal Government is closed. #Saltmagedon pic.twitter.com/oAJHSKFkb4 — Billy Long (@auctnr1) March 21, 2018 The view from my office this morning. So much for all the snow hype. pic.twitter.com/W03qpMvmBQ — Senator John Thune (@SenJohnThune) March 21, 2018 The biggest snowfall totals seemed to be to north of the Washington area, up near the Mason-Dixon line along the Maryland and Pennsylvania border, where as much as two feet of snow could fall. But federal officials did not take any chances, as they closed government offices on Wednesday. Despite the weather threat, Congress was in session today, though some committees had scrapped hearings set for Wednesday morning, worried about the snow. Both the House and Senate were still going to be in session, as lawmakers were trying to finish a giant funding bill, facing a Friday night shutdown deadline. At the White House, it was a snow day as well – even without any snow on the ground in the morning – as the President erred on the side of caution, and canceled two events, including a Cabinet meeting. One thing the winter storm could not shut down was the President’s Twitter feed, as Mr. Trump was up early this morning, registering his frustration with the Special Counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and noting his displeasure at the outcome of a case about illegal immigrants in the federal court system.
  • Issuing the first report in the review of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that a range of stepped up security measures must be taken by local, state, and federal officials to address a series of gaps, which lawmakers in both parties say Moscow was obviously trying to exploit. “It is clear the Russian government was looking for the vulnerabilities in our election system,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the chairman of the Intelligence panel. “Russia attempted to penetrate 21 states; we know they were successful in penetrating at least one voter database,” Burr added at a bipartisan news conference on Capitol Hill. The panel issued a two page summary of what Senators say should be changed, ranging from giving grants to states to help secure their election systems, and pushing states to replaced outdated voting machines, and ensure that such vote counting equipment is not connected to the internet . Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr: 'It is clear the Russian government was looking for the vulnerabilities in our election system … there's no evidence that any vote was changed' https://t.co/W5nwamfXVM — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 20, 2018 While Burr again stressed that there was “no evidence that any vote was changed,” he made clear that the bottom line of the investigation shows Russia was a bad actor in 2016. “Russia was trying to undermine the confidence in our election system,” Burr added. “The Russians were relentless in trying to meddle in the 2016 elections,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), as she said Senators in both parties agree that Moscow is trying to do the same thing in 2018 in the United States, and in other Western democracies as well. “We may never know the full extent of the Russian malicious attacks,” Collins added. One idea suggested by committee members is for states to go back to paper ballots in the future, to insure that overseas actors can’t hack their way into the voting process. Sen. Kamala Harris on election machinery: “Paper ballots might actually be one of the smartest systems, because Russia cannot hack a piece of paper” #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/lvhs3KhqVK — TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) March 20, 2018 The panel will hold a hearing on Wednesday to go over these findings and recommendations related to election security, as Burr and other Senators stressed that their overall review of Russia’s 2016 election meddling continues. The news conference demonstrated the difference between the investigations into Russian interference in the House and Senate, as Senators of both parties joined together, while over in the House, the two sides have been issuing dueling memos and reports.
  • A week after the feds announced the largest budget deficit in February in six years, the national debt edged over $21 trillion for the first time ever on Monday, as budget experts argue the U.S. is on a track that will likely again feature yearly deficits of $1 trillion, a level reached only during the Obama Administration. “This is unsustainable,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). The $21 trillion debt milestone was hit as lawmakers in Congress were trying to place the finishing touches on a giant Omnibus funding bill which will increase deficits by well over $100 billion in 2018, because of extra spending approved for both domestic and defense accounts. Even before that, budget watchdogs were warning of a new tide of red ink in the Trump Administration. “Thanks to the recent budget-busting tax cuts and spending deal, the national debt is skyrocketing and on an unsustainable course,” said Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. $21,031,067,004,766.25 (+) #NationalDebt — National Debt Tweets (@NationalDebt) March 16, 2018 The February budget numbers had two main reasons why the monthly deficit jumped to $215 billion – up from $192 billion in 2017 – less revenue coming in to Uncle Sam, and more spending. Tax revenues were $155 billion in February, down from $171 billion a year ago. While deficits are heading back up, there’s no hint of action in the Congress on any plan to restrain spending, though only a handful GOP lawmakers publicly grumbled about the situation, as they waited to see what exactly was in the Omnibus. What’s in the omnibus bill that will fund the entire country on Wednesday? No one can tell you for sure. The deadline was sept 30, 2017. It’s probably the only consequential bill that will pass this year. There is a serious problem with this process! — Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 20, 2018 As early as Wednesday, the House plans to vote on a trillion-dollar spending bill—stuffed with all sorts of unrelated measures—and we don’t even have the text. That’s insane. This leadership team has found a way to make the process worse than existed under @SpeakerBoehner. — Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 19, 2018 But the Omnibus has become almost a normal spending tool for Congress, unable to get through the dozen yearly spending bills on time. For the current 2018 Fiscal Year, lawmakers were supposed to have finished 12 funding measures by October 1 of last year – but that spending work has only been completed on time in four of the last 43 years – one reason there are calls to overhaul the system.
  • As President Donald Trump this weekend repeated some of his complaints about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether it involved anyone on his campaign, Mr. Trump did something unusual – sending out a pair of his tweets which included the name of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading that investigation. It was the first time on Twitter that the President had more directly taken aim at Mueller, a former FBI Director who was named by the Trump Justice Department in 2017 to investigate the charge of Russian meddling in last year’s elections. Were the weekend mentions of Mueller a new game plan from the President? Or just more of him venting frustration about the Russia investigation? Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018 1. Is Trump now going to more publicly confront Mueller? Before this weekend, President Trump had mentioned the Special Counsel’s name in a tweet just one time, back in December. But this weekend, the President did it twice. “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Mr. Trump said in a familiar refrain about the investigation. But his next tweet went further, directly accusing Mueller of putting together a biased investigation. In the process, the New York Times reported that the President shrugged off the advice of his legal team to not even mention Mueller’s name. Democrats in Congress said the Twitter volleys showed one thing – that the President is feeling pressure from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. 2. Trump lawyer calls for end to Mueller probe. While the President condemned the Russia investigation, one of his lawyers, John Dowd, went a step further, saying it was time for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to bring the Mueller probe to a close. Asked about that on Fox News Sunday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) basically told lawyer John Dowd to shut up, saying no matter what you think of the issue of collusion, Mueller’s task is to find out how Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. “To suggest that Mueller should shut down, and all he is looking at is collusion – if you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it,” Gowdy said bluntly. Gowdy was one of the few Republicans to address the issue on Sunday. 3. Most Republicans say little about Trump-Mueller. About 12 hours after the President’s Sunday morning tweets, one of his White House lawyers sent word that the President was not “considering or discussing the firing of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.” But Democrats said that’s the way it looked to them, and a handful of Republicans joined in airing similar concerns. “It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — unimpeded,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in a statement. “Members of Congress need to be vocal in support of Special Counsel Mueller finishing his investigation,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). But there were few other Republicans making such statements. If President Trump fired Robert Mueller, “that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we are a rule of law nation,” says GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham #CNNSOTU https://t.co/Vgrqe3mIMf https://t.co/snm875uCzI — CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 18, 2018 4. Mueller remains silent on Russia investigation. While the President has expended a lot of energy in recent months raising questions about the Russia probe, Special Counsel Mueller has said nothing. He has not appeared in public to discuss the investigation. He has not released any statements on all the furor surrounding the investigation. He has not taken issue with any comments by the President. Instead, Mueller has let the guilty pleas and indictments do the talking for him, as several people who worked for the Trump Campaign have already plead guilty to lying to the FBI about their conversations related to Russia. For some Republicans, Mueller’s work has already gone on too long. 5. Few details on the firing of ex-FBI official Andrew McCabe. The weekend got off to a fast start at 10 pm on Friday night, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. No paperwork was released, so despite a lot of press reports on what exactly happened, we haven’t seen any part of an internal investigation that’s being done on the way top FBI brass handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and the Trump-Russia probe. While the President celebrated the firing of McCabe – “a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – most GOP lawmakers stayed quiet. On Sunday, Trump accused both McCabe, and former FBI Director James Comey of fabricating evidence against him. “Fake memos,” he wrote. One Republican who raised a red flag about the firing of McCabe was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who expressed concern about a bureaucratic process involving federal workers that usually takes much longer to complete.
  • Jamie Dupree

    Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.

    A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989. Politics and the Congress are in Jamie’s family, as both of his parents were staffers for members of Congress. He was also a page and intern in the House of Representatives. Jamie has covered 11 national political conventions, with his first being the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. His political travels have had him on the presidential campaign trail every four years since 1992, chasing candidates throughout the primary calendar.

    He is heard on Cox Radio stations around the country: WSB-AM Atlanta, WDBO-AM Orlando; WOKV-AM/FM Jacksonville; WHIO-AM/FM Dayton, Ohio; and KRMG-AM Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Jamie and his wife Emily live just outside the Beltway with their three children. Some may know Jamie from his other on-air hobby, as he is a licensed amateur radio operator. When not at work or playing with his kids, you can often find him with a golf club in his hands.

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Local News

  • – The University of Georgia Foundation has hired Jason Bull as its first chief investment officer, effective April 9. Bull was formerly managing director for Emory University’s endowment.   The liquid assets managed by the UGA Foundation have surpassed $1 billion, as more donors contribute each year in support of the University of Georgia. Bull will lead the team managing these assets and will be responsible for securing a favorable investment return, which is critical to the foundation’s continued success. The UGA Foundation provides more than $65 million annually, on average, to advance the University of Georgia’s missions of teaching, research and service.   An 11-person committee conducted a national search to fill the role of chief investment officer. The committee was led by UGA Foundation Board of Trustees Vice Chair John Crawford and included both trustees and UGA senior administrators.   “Surpassing $1 billion of liquid assets was a big milestone that led to our decision to seek out strategic investment leadership,” Crawford said. “As the foundation’s assets continue to grow, we need to ensure we’re accessing the best investment opportunities and that our goals are reflected in our investment allocations.”   In his previous role at Emory, Bull led investments within the global public equity markets, which were the largest investments, and delivered significant returns by partnering with world-class investment organizations around the globe. Bull earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics and economics from Eastern Michigan University and an MBA from Emory’s Goizueta Business School. He is a chartered financial analyst charterholder with17 years of experience managing investments.   “We’re thrilled to have Jason fill this role as we continue to provide more resources through the success of the Commit to Georgia Campaign,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations and executive director for the UGA Foundation. “He has the strong technical background in investments and extensive endowment experience that we need, and I’m confident he will also bring enthusiasm and dynamism to this new leadership role.”
  • The Georgia Bulldog football team held its second spring practice session Thursday: coach Kirby Smart and the Dogs are gearing up for the April 21 G-Day game in Sanford Stadium.    From UGA Sports Communications…   Under cloudless skies with a steady wind and temperatures hovering in the upper 50s, the Georgia football team had its second practice of the spring on Thursday afternoon.   The Bulldogs kicked off the spring on Tuesday with a two and a half hour session. On Wednesday, all 32 NFL teams sent representatives to Athens to cover the annual Pro Day where 21 former players worked out in preparation for the coming NFL Draft on April 26-28. The current Bulldogs returned to work at the Woodruff Practice Fields on Thursday with another two and a half hour practice in shorts and helmets.   This marks the second of 15 spring practices for Georgia, including the annual G-Day intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, April 21. The Bulldogs will complete their first week of the spring with another session this Saturday afternoon.   It was announced on Thursday that ESPN will televise the G-Day game in Sanford Stadium starting at 4 p.m. The Red team will face off versus the Black team and admission is free to the annual showdown. At halftime, fans attending G-Day can expect to be introduced to UGA's incoming class of 2018 signees.    Prior to the G-Day matchup, lettermen from the program’s past will square off on the field starting at 1:15 p.m. With expected high demand and temporarily reduced seating due to the construction on the new West End Zone complex, the UGA Athletic Association will be implementing a pass system. Upon entrance, each fan will receive a commemorative pass with a seating section. The UGAAA asks that each fan sits in this section to help manage what is expected to be a near-capacity crowd.    Gates 2-9 will be open as usual. However, Gate 10 (gate under the bridge next to the Tate Center) will be closed due to construction. To help reduce congestion and further improve ingress flow, please enter on the side of the stadium where each fan’s preferred seating location would be. Additional pass/entry questions can be directed to facilitysupport@sports.uga.edu. The Bulldogs begin their 2018 campaign with a home matchup versus Austin Peay on Saturday, Sept. 1. Georgia will then travel to Columbia, S.C., to open its Southeastern Conference schedule against South Carolina on Sept. 8.
  • A public input session on plans for Dudley Park is set for Saturday: it’s organized by the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department. It’s underway at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning, lasting til noon at the Athens Farmers Market in Bishop Park. Leisure Services is looking for input on proposed changes to the Dudley Park master plan.    There is an afternoon meeting of the University of Georgia’s curriculum committee, a 3:30 session at New College on Herty Drive.    The Gainesville Fire Department gets money from the poultry processing firm Cargill: Cargill is giving the Department $10,000. Gainesville Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough says they’ll use the money to beef up the Department’s search and rescue programs.  The City Council in Lula signs off on plans to renovate the Lula Depot. Estimated construction cost: a little more than $170,000.
  • The 1 year-old Madison County boy who was shot and wounded by his 2 year-old brother in Madison County has been transferred to a hospital in Atlanta. What the Madison County Sheriff’s Office says was an accidental shooting happened earlier this week at a home in Hull. The injured boy, who was shot in the shoulder, was taken first to hospital in Athens. He was, at last report, in stable condition at Eggleston Hospital in Atlanta.  His older brother was not injured. Athens-Clarke County Police were, at last report, still searching for a robbery suspect, a man who used an axe to break into a package store on Oconee Street. Store surveillance video shows the break-in. Store operators tell police the man stole about $40 worth of wine. A 40 year-old Gainesville man is arrested on methamphetamine distribution charges: the Hall County Sheriff’s Office says Edward Barker was arrested after a traffic stop on Old Cornelia Highway. He was booked into the Hall County jail. 
  • Hall County Commissioners voted on a new version of Hall County's short term rental ordinance last night in Gainesville, striking what the Commission says is a balance between the rights of property owners who want to rent their properties on a short term basis and the concerns of their neighbors.    'I'd like to thank the citizens and groups whom we've heard from concerning changes to the short term rental ordinance,' Hall County Commission Chairman Richard Higgins (pictured) said. 'We are thankful that our county is a vacation destination for people, and we want to balance the concerns and rights of property owners desiring to rent their properties on a short term basis with the welfare of their neighboring property owners.'   The latest version of the Hall County ordinance allows for short-term rentals as a permitted use in properties zoned Vacation-Cottage. The new ordinance also opens up short-term rentals to properties zoned Residential with approval from the Hall County Planning Commission that are within 500 feet of Corps of Engineers property or are within subdivisions with 10 lots or less.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — The week before Jake Fromm went to visit David Morris in Mobile, Ala., Eli Manning had come in and had some sessions with the renowned quarterback coach. So Morris’ perspective on good quarterback play is pretty strong. As founder of QB Country, Morris has also worked with AJ McCarron since the eighth grade, and had various stings with Matt Barkley, Chad Kelly, Jacob Coker and some guy named Tebow, Tim I believe the first name is. Morris wasn’t name-dropping. That was just me researching — OK, Googling — his list of clientele. That list includes Fromm, Georgia’s latest quarterback sensation. I reached out to Morris after I heard about Fromm using some of his spring break beach time to work out with Morris at QB Country. I was doing a story on Fromm’s offseason preparations for this season, so Morris seemed like a good guy to talk to. Being a coach in demand like he is — Morris was traveling this week to help prepare Toledo’s Logan Woodside and Riley Ferguson of Memphis for their respective pro days — he didn’t get back to me in time to be included in that story. But Fromm and Morris go back a way, and his observations were such that I definitely wanted to share them with DawgNation readers. First, a little background. They met when Fromm was just 15 years old. “I met Jake, I think it was right after his freshman year (in high school) maybe,” Morris said. “He and his father kind of found me. They reached out and we connected. They came to Mobile and we just started working together. That’s kind of how our stuff works with most of our guys. Dads do their homework and figure out what makes sense.” With those early interactions as a backdrop, Morris said he was not surprised to see Fromm have early success at Georgia. When he started working with Fromm, the kid was considered more of a baseball prospect that a football prospect. But Fromm had caught the eye of head coach Von Lassiter and quarterbacks coach Mike Chastain at Houston County High School. They, in turn, told Fromm’s father Emerson about Morris and his reputation for developing quarterbacks. The next thing Fromm knew, he was on his way to Mobile. “Coach Chastain reached out to me and said, ‘I’ve got a good one I’m going to send down to you,’ ” Morris said. “And I could see what he was talking about early on. When they’re that young, you’re thinking about things like, ‘is he mechanically sound, is he a big kid, can he make all the throws?’ Then you start projecting them out (as a prospect). Jake started getting a lot of attention that next year, his sophomore year. I think he got some offers about then. But early on, you could tell this kid had it.” Since then, Fromm and Morris have gotten together to work as often as possible. Fromm would attend the QB Country camps whenever possible, then he would seek out individual instruction anytime his schedule would allow it. It wasn’t real often, with Fromm living in another state. But that meant the visits were spread out just enough that Morris could distinctly see the progress that Fromm was making from semester to semester. Morris gives Chastain and Lassiter most of the credit for Fromm’s development. He said he showed up at QB Country with a strong foundation of fundamentals and a surprisingly strong aptitude for offensive concepts. “His ability to think fast goes back to high school,” Morris said. “He was well-coached by Coach Chastain and Coach Lassiter. Very honestly, those guys coached him up. It’s important to give those guys credit because he was a well-trained kid when he showed up. We focused more on footwork and arm position, things like that.” Fromm’s training was on display for everyone to see as a true freshman last season. After incumbent starter Jacob Eason sustained a knee injury in Georgia’s first game, Fromm started the next 14 and helped lead the Bulldogs to an SEC championship and National Championship Game berth. The national narrative on Fromm last season became that he was a game manager whose strongest contribution was to get the Bulldogs into good plays and out of bad ones. And he certainly was proficient in that regard. But Morris believes Fromm is being sold short on his passing ability. Fromm completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. He threw 7 interceptions and also had 3 rushing TDs. “He’s got plenty of arm strength,” Morris said. “The thing that he has that’s rare is his anticipation and touch. He’s very confident, too. As a result, you don’t see him late on throws very often. A lot of times, coming out of the gate, guys are late on throws because they’re nervous about making the wrong read. It seemed like he was on in that regard pretty much every game.” Morris was asked if he was trying to help Fromm gain velocity on his throws. “I would say he has plenty of arm,” Morris said. “He actually has a strong arm. He doesn’t have the Josh Allen arm where he can throw it 70 yards, but you don’t need to do that. And Josh Allen struggles with accuracy. Josh would like to have the accuracy Jake’s got. Jake has anticipation, touch, arm strength and accuracy. So, yeah, I’d say he’s ahead of his time on all that stuff. But I’d say the most important thing is he’s got confidence.” Like Eason last year, Fromm is wearing the hat as incumbent starter. But he can’t rest on his laurels. Georgia signed Justin Fields — the No. 1-rated dual-threat quarterback in America — to provide much-needed depth and compete with Fromm. Morris is actually quite familiar with Fields, too. Though the Kennesaw, Ga., native and Harrison High School standout has worked with Ron Veal as his personal quarterbacks coach since the sixth grade, Fields has actually had some sessions with Morris over the years at various camps. “I worked him out at the Rivals Camp last year,” Morris said. “He and the kid from Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) were there as well as (Marietta 2020 prospect) Harrison Bailey and some other guys. (Fields is) impressive. He’s a physically gifted guy that can throw it. I don’t know much more about him other than that, that he can really throw the ball.” Morris doesn’t have an opinion on the quarterback competition at Georgia, or whether it’s real or imagined. But he did say that he knows from experience that Fromm will be very difficult to run down from behind. Morris noted that Fromm’s constant and steady improvement has been uncanny to watch. That, and his physical growth. “Obviously, they’ve got a great weight program at Georgia,” Morris said with a laugh. “Jake’s 6-[foot-]2 and he’s a strong kid. I want to say he was 222, 225 when he was here, but it’s good weight. He’s got some tree trunks for legs. He doesn’t look too big to me, but I think that’s probably where he wants to stay. The one thing I always preach to him about being strong like that is that he has to maintain flexibility. You can tell early on in a workout if a kid has been paying attention to his flexibility because a lot of guys who work out too much get too stiff. They can’t turn their elbow over and it turns into a violent throw. I thought Jake still looked fluid and flexible. We spent a lot of time making sure he was as loose as he needs to be.” Morris said he spent two full days with Fromm in Mobile. Two other days, Fromm went to the beach. “He threw great,” Morris said. “I’m always challenging him on his feet, his release speed and speed in general. Those are big things for him. As far as physical traits, though, he looks like an NFL guy right now.” The post QB ‘guru’ impressed with what he saw from Jake Fromm during spring break appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to a new feature on DawgNation, where our writers answer (or try to answer) the best questions submitted by Georgia fans. If you’d like to submit a question, please e-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. Or you can tweet us at here and here. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday. Did Charley Trippi make it to the championship game? What did he think of UGA’s two bowl games this year? — Susan Davis Thank you so very, very much, Ms. Davis, for sending in this question. It reminded me that I hadn’t followed up on that storyline from last season, and it also gave me a great excuse to talk to Charley and Peggy Trippi again. The last time I spoke to them was on the Sunday after the SEC Championship Game, after Georgia had learned that it would, in fact, play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1943, when Trippi did as a sophomore. His reaction was priceless! As for attending the actual game, Trippi and his wife had every intention of doing so. Both UGA and the Rose Bowl invited the couple to travel with the Bulldogs to California, and they were offered free passage and lodging with the Georgia contingent, of course. When the invitation was extended, Trippi told his wife immediately, “Oh, boy, let’s pack!” Unfortunately, just a short time later, when Georgia was needing to firm up arrangements, Trippi had a change of heart. He came in from his daily routine of working in the yard and realized that such a journey would be too great. While he’s in better shape than most people his age — Trippi turned 96 on Dec. 14 — he thought better of undertaking the challenge. The Trippis also were invited to the National Championship Game against Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. And although that game meant a car ride instead of a cross-country airplane trip, again they turned down the invitation, mainly because of the late hour of kickoff. “We were kindly invited to both,” Peggy Trippi said Thursday. “But it just wasn’t in the bag for us.” But Charley Trippi watched every play of both games on television, according to his wife. And as one might suspect, he was particularly thrilled with the Bulldogs improving to 2-0 in the Rose Bowl. “Oh, please, that was something!” Peggy Trippi said. “We enjoyed that one.” They actually enjoyed the National Championship Game a week later, too, even though the Bulldogs lost to Alabama 26-23 in overtime. Peggy said her husband still watches games intently, but very much with a coach/athlete mentality. “He watched every play, right here in our den,” Peggy said. “You know, he’s very calm and quiet. He’s kind of like, whatever happens, happens.” Charley has a hard time hearing on the phone, as one might expect. But after Peggy relayed it to him, he was able to answer my question about the Bulldogs coming oh-so-close in the national title game. “You know, they may have lost the game, but look what they’ve done in a year and a half!” Trippi said. Added his wife, “He’s behind the team, I’ll tell you that.” Have a question for beat writers Chip Towers and Seth Emerson? E-mail us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com The post Charley Trippi was with Bulldogs every step of way in College Football Playoff appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS, Ga. – Seventh-ranked Georgia softball won its midweek series with in-state foe Georgia Southern Wednesday evening, 10-3.   The Bulldogs (27-2) scored in every inning and outhit the Eagles (19-9) 13-to-6. Sophomore second baseman Justice Milz scattered three hits to lead the Georgia offense. Five other Bulldogs each had two hits in the contest while sophomore first baseman Alysen Febrey drove in three runs.   Sophomore right-handed pitcher Mary Wilson Avant pitched three scoreless innings in her second start of the season. She allowed just one hit and fanned five. Freshman right-hander Lauren Mathis pitched two innings in relief in the circle, allowing both Eagle runs. Sophomore righty Amanda Ablan (2-1) earned the win as she pitched the final two innings, allowing a run.   The Bulldogs took a 2-0 in the first inning on a double off the bat of Febrey into right center.   Sophomore center fielder Ciara Bryan led off the bottom of the second with a triple to right center. She immediately scored on a groundout by freshman catcher Jessica Morgan, adding to the lead, 3-0.   Georgia pushed three runs across in the plate in the bottom of the third inning. The stanza began with a hit-by-pitch and back-to-back base hits to load the bases. Morgan singled to center, driving in pinch runner Tyler Armistead. A wild pitch in the dirt scored senior right fielder Kendall Burton. A dropped fly ball off the bat of senior left fielder Cortni Emanuel plated Bryan, lengthening the lead to 6-0 after three.   Two runs came in to score on a base hit up the middle by Alesha Mann in the Eagles’ half of the fifth, narrowing the Bulldog lead to 7-2.   A sacrifice fly off the bat of Febrey widened the margin back to six for Georgia in the bottom of the inning, 8-2.   Georgia Southern’s Logan Harrell hit a solo home run to left in the top of the sixth, narrowing the lead to 8-3.   The Bulldogs continued their scoring streak into the sixth with two more runs. The first scored when Emanuel stole second and the throw to the bag went array, allowing Morgan to come home. The next batter, Milz, reached on a fielding error by the first baseman, extending the inning and plating Emanuel, 10-3.   Georgia takes to the road this weekend for a three-game Southeastern Conference series with #21 Mississippi State. The series begins Friday at 7 p.m., EDT.   Head Coach Lu Harris-Champer 'I think we did a good job just coming out and playing softball. Allison did great tonight and had 3 RBIs, Justice came out and batted incredibly well, and Mary Wilson started us out excellently on the mound. Going on the road this weekend won't be very different for us because we're just going to play softball. We are really looking to take the positives out of every day, these girls can be upset by the outcome but what really matters is the process.'   Sophomore 2B Justice Milz 'I just kept thinking about the weather conditions tonight and knew I just needed to keep hitting groundballs up the middle and that's what happened. The weather doesn't change our game much we just have to maintain a solid mindset through the cold and the wind. My confidence has really skyrocketed going into Mississippi State because I've gotten out of my slump and I'm really excited about it.'   Sophomore RHP Mary Wilson Avant 'I think going out there and being able to command my pitches gave me confidence for the rest of the game. Also, knowing that my defense will always have my back. I think our reps, our hitters, and our defense doing everything we need to do has really boosted our confidence going into our series against Mississippi State. We can always keep our energy high, that's really the main thing we can work on this week.
  • UGA Football conducts Pro Day for NFL scouts and coaches 
  • ATHENS — Their situations are decidedly different. Then again, they’re much the same. Both Roquan Smith and Trent Thompson are juniors, so both had a year of eligibility at Georgia remaining when they decided to turn pro in January. As we understand it now, Smith toiled terribly over the decision. Thompson, by contrast, never really had a doubt. Yet, as they sit a month away from the NFL draft, it’s only Smith who seems assured of NFL riches. Nobody seems to be sure what to make of Thompson’s fortunes. He’ll get drafted, certainly, but how long he may have to wait is a matter of much debate. The buzz at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday was that Thompson is looking at a third- or fourth-round call at best. Smith, by contrast, has been invited to the NFL draft ceremonies in Arlington, Texas, and projects as a top-15 pick. That was pretty much the feedback Smith, the 2017 Butkus Award winner, received when he filled out his underclassman evaluation application from the NFL back in December. Yet he insists his decision wasn’t the no-brainer that many of his Georgia teammates described. “Top 15 is pretty special,” said Smith, who led the SEC in tackles and the Bulldogs in sacks and tackles for loss, as well. “I knew I’d pretty much be a first-round pick; that’s what they were telling me. But, at the end of the day, it wasn’t even about that for me. It was more about the things I enjoy [at Georgia] and what we did together. It was special, very special. It’ll definitely be something I miss, but life goes on and you have to do what’s best for you.” Lorenzo Carter, Nick Chubb, Davin Bellamy and Sony Michel all chose to return in 2017 for their senior seasons for much the same reason. However, none of them received the level of draft grade that Smith did. Their feedback was similar to what Thompson heard. But these decisions aren’t based solely on draft grades and contract potential. There also can be extenuating factors. Thompson, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle from Albany, has been inundated with injuries throughout his college career. He had shoulder surgery a year ago and struggled with knee injuries last season. He also had a rather high-profile medical episode in February 2017 that resulted in his hospitalization and withdrawal from school. Not only did the incident create health concerns for Thompson, it also put him in a hole academically. Whether he would have been eligible to play another season for the Bulldogs is unclear. But most believe it was time for the player affectionately known as “Big Jolly” to make the jump to the pros, anyway. “Everybody has their own things going on,” said Bellamy, who also worked out for scouts Wednesday. “We don’t know what’s going on at home for a guy that may influence their decision. For Roquan, man, it was a no-brainer. I kind of felt like with him there was nothing else to prove. But I’d say the same with Trent, really. He was a three-year starter here. He put his body on the line for his team. It gets to a point where you have to be a little selfish, thinking about yourself and your career.” Thompson certainly arrived at UGA with more fanfare. In fact, when he signed with the Bulldogs out of Albany’s Westover High, he was the No. 1 overall prospect in the country, according to the composite rankings compiled by 247Sports. Thompson lived up to that billing at times. By the end of his sophomore year, he was almost unblockable. He definitely was for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, earning both overall and defensive MVP honors with 8 tackles and 3 sacks. He’d finish the season with 56 total stops. But between recovering from shoulder surgery and battling a knee sprain, Thompson’s snaps decreased in 2017. He ended up alternating with sophomore Tyler Clark, who emerged as a star in his own right. Thompson missed two games and finished with 38 tackles, 3.5 of those for loss. “He’s been pretty beat-up,” Bellamy said of Thompson. “But he has three years of good film in the best conference in America and he’s been dominant all three of those years. I think he’s going to do pretty good at the next level.” Most everybody agrees about that. In all these cases, Georgia players who are considering making the jump early consult Kirby Smart as well as their position coaches. But they also look to sources outside the football program. The key is arriving at an informed objective opinion. “I tell them whatever that ask,” Smart said. “We’re advocates for our players and we want to do a great job for them. Trenton’s certainly done tremendous job for us since being here. He’s pushed through a lot of injuries and he’s a great kid. We wish him nothing but the best.” Smart was asked whether he thought Thompson would benefit from another year in college. “That’s not my decision,” he said. “Our job as coaches is to get them information. That’s what I always try to do. Whether they decide to go or decide to stay, it’s the same thing. You arm them with ammunition. I’ve got to give them all the information. Information is power. And then they do with the information what they want. That’s the best thing we can do as coaches.” Thompson seemed to struggle through some of his drills Wednesday. He appeared to be favoring his right leg whenever was asked to do timed runs and dummy step-overs, as well. Smith had a nearly flawless workout, even though his status indicated he need not even bother with participating. He didn’t do any of the physical testing but went through position drills with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Lions coach Matt Patricia presiding. For as much fuss that is being made about him now, it’s hard to believe Smith ever considered coming back to Georgia one more year. “He was real close,” Smart said. “He had several moments where he was leaning toward coming back, several moments he was leaving. Again, that’s not my decision. All we do is give them the information we get and try to educate them with that information. He did a great job of handling it.” The post Same decision, different draft scenarios for Georgia juniors Roquan Smith, Trent Thompson appeared first on DawgNation.