U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson met with The Albany Herald's Editorial Board on Thursday and discussed topics ranging from deepening the Port of Savannah, gun control and North Korea.
ALBANY, Ga. — U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, (R-Ga.), says the most important issue facing Georgia today is the deepening of the port of Savannah.
Isakson made that comment during a meeting Thursday morning with the editorial board of The Albany Herald. He also was in Albany to speak to a joint meeting of local Rotary clubs.
"There is nothing bigger right now for the entire state," Isakson said referring to the project. "The port provides more than 297,000 jobs directly to the state of Georgia. There is no bigger contributor, other than agriculture, to our economy."
"Savannah is the second largest export port in the country at more than 53 percent exports with 47 percent imports."
Much of those Savannah exports are agricultural in nature, Isakson said.
Last week the state legislature approved $50 million in additional funding for the project, pushing its total allocation to more than $230 million.
Deepening the harbor from 42 to 47 feet will allow the port to handle an expected increase in the number of super-sized container vessels that will use the Panama Canal after its own expansion project is finished in 2015.
The senator then covered a wide range of topics from the farm bill, North Korea and gun control.
Isakson said he expects a new five-year farm bill extension to pass soon.
"Agriculture is the No. 1 business in Georgia, and we will pass the extension" the senator said. "The farm bill has been good for our farmers and it's also been good for Georgia."
The senator then expounded on the potential threat of North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un, whose regime has issued daily threats to launch nuclear missiles at the United States and its allies.
"What we have is a 29-year-old heir, whose father and grandfather ruled the country with an iron fist," Isakson said. "This guy (Kim Jung-Un) is threatening to declare war on us and launch nuclear missiles. But it's hard to take seriously a guy who takes Dennis Rodman seriously."
Isakson was then asked about gun control. He said he considered any possible legislation as a non-starter.
"There will be no legislation passed in regard to magazines or weapons," Isakson said. "The Second Amendment is important to the people of Georgia and it just ain't gonna happen. In the end it's all just going to amount to a lot of sound and fury. Any legislation that contravenes the Second Amendment is impossible because the people don't want to see it happen."
The senator was then asked about recent ammunition shortages rumored to have been sparked by large government purchases.
"Yes, the government has purchased large amounts of ammunition," Isakson said. "But you have to realize that 1.6 billion cartridges will be used at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick. What's really causing the shortage is panic buying by people who fear restrictions on ammunition and weapons purchases."
When the subject of sequestration cuts came up, Isakson offered a simple explanation.
"Sequestration is a 'poison pill' congress never thought would actually happen," Isakson said.
At a town hall meeting at South Georgia College in Douglas on Wednesday, Isakson said the crowd of more than 250 people impressed him.
"I would describe the people as engaged and on top of the issues," the senator said. "They weren't looking for simple 'yes' or 'no' answers, they wanted explanations. It was encouraging.
"Democracy is not a spectator sport. You have to hold people accountable. It's there for the taking, but you have to work for it."