Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff has earned a reputation as a serial bipartisan leader of signed letters to the Biden Administration — some of which have been more successful than others.
In mid-August, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ossoff and 34 other senators learned that the U.S. Department of Defense had decided to maintain the U.S. Security Coordinator (USCC) position in the Middle East at the three-star rank, as the senators requested, rather than downgrade it. The USCC is a joint, international interagency office with Department of Defense service members assigned to the State Department.
In an interview with the AJT, Ossoff, a Democrat, noted that “both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority recognized the value of having a high-ranking officer” in the position. “It is one of the few officials in any government” that liaises with both sides.
Ossoff said that when he was in Jerusalem, where the U.S. Security Coordinator is based, he realized the “vital role that the coordinator plays in reducing escalatory” acts.
Earlier this summer, it had been reported that the Pentagon was considering downgrading the position to that of colonel, which Sens. Ossoff and Graham and their colleagues warned would undermine U.S. national security and risk peace and stability in Israel and the West Bank. The post had been created in 2005 in an effort to rebuild the Palestinian security services after the Second Intifada.
In early June, Ossoff and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) co-authored a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for a full and transparent investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian and American journalist shot to death on May 11 while reporting in the West Bank.
“The killing of a U.S. citizen and of a journalist engaged in the work of reporting in a conflict zone is unacceptable,” the senators wrote. “All over the world, journalists pursue truth and accountability at great personal risk. Press freedom is a core American value, and we cannot accept impunity when journalists are killed in the line of duty. We insist that the Administration ensure a full and transparent investigation is completed.”
The letter, dated June 6, ended by requesting “a detailed update on the progress of this effort within 30 days.”
In late August, Ossoff said that he was continuing to pursue the relevant facts in that case. At this point, he said, he didn’t have a “public comment” to make.
But it is clear that Ossoff believes in co-signing bipartisan letters to authorities on both the international and domestic levels.
“I have worked particularly hard to build relationships across the aisle,” he told the AJT. It is a “core part of my work.” The senator enumerated several examples on the state level, including getting the Senate to pass his legislation to expand capacity and reduce supply chain bottlenecks at the Port of Brunswick.
In addition, Ossoff worked with Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA-01) to make a bipartisan push to help train and bring more healthcare workers to Georgia.
The freshman senator has also succeeded in passing bipartisan legislation on the national level. This month, Ossoff, along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), managed to pass a law to fund training for first responders, crisis invention teams, mental health courts and other programs that help law enforcement assist individuals experiencing mental illness.
“I am pleased the President has signed into law my legislation funding local law enforcement and mental health care,” he said at the time. “Georgia communities deserve and demand safety, and my bill — now law — will make Georgia a safer place to live.”
This month, Ossoff also championed bipartisan legislation to guarantee health benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic chemicals, which was signed into law.
“Today is a big day for veterans in Georgia and across the country,” he said. “When I entered the Senate, I committed to working across the aisle to pass this legislation, which will strengthen health for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and today the President has signed it into law.”
The senator says he believes that his efforts to work “across the aisle” have been “widely recognized across the state.”
- Israel news
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- Sen. Jon Ossoff
- Biden administration
- Sen. Lindsey Graham
- U.S. Department of Defense
- U.S. Security Coordinator
- Palestinian authority
- West Bank
- Sen. Mitt Romney
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken
- Shireen Abu Akleh
- Port of Brunswick
- freedom of the press
- Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter
- Sen. Chuck Grassley