Warnock: Constitutional right 'gutted': Senator speaks on Roe v. Wade decision in Valdosta stop

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Jun. 27—VALDOSTA — Sen. Raphael Warnock said the Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade was "a punch in the gut."

"The Supreme Court has now gutted a basic constitutional right," Warnock said Saturday during a visit to Valdosta. "Let me be clear, I am a man of faith and I have a profound reverence for life and I have a deep respect for choice. That is one of the first things God gave us, is a choice. The question is whose decision is it. I will always say that a patient's room is too small for a woman, her doctor and the United States government."

Warnock made his comments Saturday during a visit hosted by the Democratic Party at Valdosta State University.

"I came to say thank you for what we did together in the 2020 election cycle. Georgia saved the whole country," he said.

Warnock shared insights on what Georgia has accomplished in the U.S. Senate, while looking ahead to what's next.

Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill, which expanded the Child Tax Credit for 2021, Warnock said.

The U.S. Senate passed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

On the American Job Plan, the $2 trillion will create jobs through repairing and upgrading infrastructure, revitalizing manufacturing and valuing the caregiving economy.

The Senate passed the PACT Act, the most significant expansion of health care benefits to veterans in generations, Warnock said.

He referenced his visit to Moody Air Force Base in 2021, when he prayed for airmen before they flew to a refugee camp at Holloman Air Force Base.

"Following my visit, I fought for $12.5 million investment for Moody Air Force Base to protect this military hub," Warnock said. "Immediately after I returned to Washington to fight for our men and women that serve our country by fighting for decent housing while on base, and when they come out of the military, they should have decent benefits. Which is why I am glad we passed the PACT Act a couple weeks ago.

"The folks that fight for us should not have to fight with us to get the benefits they deserve."

Warnock said he is focused on lowering cost of living for lower-income families. Referencing rising gas costs, Warnock said he is working to pass the federal gas tax suspension.

"It's a global issue but when you are in the grocery store or at the pump you are thinking about your account," the senator said. "That is why I have challenged the way these oil and gas companies have an influence in our politics. They are engaging in price gouging at the pump, which means you are paying record prices at the pump but they are enjoying record profits in the middle of a pandemic. I have challenged the administration to hold oil and gas companies and ocean carriers accountable. I am glad that my bill was passed and signed by the President the other day."

Warnock said other issues include: — Capping the cost of insulin. Warnock said12% adults have diabetes and $1 of $4 in health care is spent on people with diabetes. He proposes a bill that will cap the price no more than $35 per month — Capping the cost of prescription drugs, especially for the elderly. — Meaningful student loan debt cancellation. Warnock said during an interview with The Valdosta Daily Times that he would like to see struggling students and alumni relieved from a debt that makes them feel trapped.

In closing, Warnock told a story reflecting on the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the 116th associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

He said following the ceremony Vice President Kamala Harris suggested he and Sen. Cory Booker write a letter to someone that comes to your mind.

Warnock made a joke in reference to Harris handing him and Booker a piece of paper with the vice president letterhead, as if it was an assignment.

He chose to write his letter to his 5-year-old daughter, Chloe.

The letter said, "Dear Chloe, today we confirmed to the United States Supreme Court Ketanji Brown Jackson. In the long history of our country, she is the first Supreme Court Justice who looks like you, with hair like yours. While we were confirming her a friend of mine, the Vice President of the United States suggested I write letter. By the way she's the first vice president who looks like you, with hair like yours. I write this to say you can be anything you want to be. Love, Dad"

Warnock said as he laughed, "I FaceTimed my daughter and read the letter. She looked at me and was not impressed. But she will understand it better by and by."

In closing, Warnock said, "That was a letter to my daughter. Here is the thing the legislation we would write, the public policy we would make, the country we would build together or fail to build together is in the end a letter to our children. And we should ask ourselves what we want that letter to say."

Warnock continued, "I want my letter to say to children all across Georgia that your parents income does not determine your outcome. I want my letter to say to young girls that you have every equal rights to any young boy or person. I want my letter to say that we care not just about short-term profits but the long-term sustainability of the planet because that's the only house we have to give. I want my letter to say that all of us are children of the living God, who have value and worth, therefore we have a vote and a voice in our democracy."

Warnock began his South Georgia visit in Waycross Saturday and arrived in Valdosta later that afternoon to meet and greet Valdosta-Lowndes County Democratic Party representatives and voters.

"I campaigned as an extension on my lifelong commitment to service. A year into the job, I'm glad I decided to make the leap," Warnock told The Valdosta Daily Times. "What draws me to this work is the magnitude of change that I am able to get done. Change is hard and slow, but when we get a win, it can make a huge difference.

"For someone like me who has spent his whole life trying to make people's lives better this is a dream job and I intend to keep doing it."

Lowndes County Democratic Party Chairman Adrian Rivers said the party is working to mobilize every vote, as a result to the low turnout in the primary.

Valdosta State student leaders, Nyla Williams, Lowndes County Democratic Party intern, and Jalen Smith, Student Government president, followed Rivers remarks.

State Rep. Dexter Sharper held a moment of silence for Joseph "Sonny" Vickers, city councilman and one-time interim mayor of Valdosta, who passed last week.

Sharper introduced Warnock by saying, "I know Sen. Warnock loves Valdosta and he has been supportive in making sure we get what we need. We are showing that we can take Georgia and make it what it needs to be."

Warnock recognized the leadership, the legacy and the life of Vickers.

Following remarks, meet and greet attendees had the opportunity to meet and take a picture with Warnock.

The event was sponsored by the Lowndes County Democratic Party, Valdosta State University Young Democratic Party, and volunteers from the Valdosta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.