The Georgia senator slammed criticism that he'd been MIA since the Nov. 3 election, insisting he was hard at work on Capitol Hill.
Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) on Thursday pushed back on criticism that he's been noticeably absent from his home state of late, his office claiming he was in Washington working on COVID-19 relief for Georgians.
In reality, Perdue has been hastily ramming through judges nominated by Donald Trump before President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
Perdue slammed his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff on Thursday for criticizing his absence at home.
The Republican incumbent has been out of the public eye since he failed to win reelection on Nov. 3. He now moves on to a run-off election against Ossoff on Jan. 5.
John Burke, the communications director for Perdue's campaign, put out a statement criticizing Ossoff and claiming Perdue was not in Georgia because he was busy working on coronavirus relief in Washington.
"It's shameful to see Ossoff criticize Senator Perdue for doing his duty and working to pass much-needed COVID-19 relief for Georgians," the statement read. "It's clear that Ossoff cares only about giving Chuck Schumer total control of our Senate and not about helping Georgia families."
Senate records indicate that Perdue was indeed at work on Capitol Hill this week — but instead of COVID relief negotiations, he was packing the courts with Trump's lame-duck judicial nominees.
On Thursday, Perdue voted on the Senate floor to confirm Aileen Mercedes Cannon and James Ray Knepp II to federal judgeships.
The Senate, meanwhile, remains deadlocked on any new coronavirus relief. Democrats are seeking at least a $2.2 trillion figure for their relief bill, mirroring the amount passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives in October.
But Republicans have rejected that proposal, offering only the $500 billion figure to which they previously agreed.
With negotiations at a standstill, no votes are currently scheduled on the matter.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told The Hill on Friday that the chances of arriving at a deal before the end of the year were only "50-50."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently passed COVID relief negotiations on to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Republicans are arguing that Democrats should compromise with the lower figure during the lame-duck period.
Ossoff criticized Perdue's priorities repeatedly this week even as the Republican senator was in Washington cramming the courts with Trump's top picks.
"Georgians are hurting, and Senator Perdue is nowhere to be found," Ossoff tweeted Thursday morning. "We deserve better."
He also tweeted footage of himself telling supporters: "Has anyone seen David Perdue? It's been seven days since a majority of Georgians stood up and denied his request for reelection, and our senator is in hiding."
On Wednesday, Perdue did not appear at his own "Save Our Majority" rally, headlined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and fellow Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler. His wife, Bonnie Perdue, appeared in his stead.
"Um.... why isn't Senator Perdue at his own campaign rally?" Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director Lauren Passalacqua tweeted in response. "It's been more than a week since he's been seen or heard in Georgia and he's got a runoff in 55 days."
A Perdue spokesperson later stated that he was in Washington, conducting business as usual.
Perdue's insistence that he has been hard at work on issues related to COVID-19 is questionable given his track record on the pandemic.
In October, he said he "absolutely" backed Donald Trump's bungled federal pandemic response, which largely relied on states to make up their own safety guidelines and a purposeful misconstruing of basic facts about the virus.
Earlier this year, he falsely claimed that the coronavirus was no worse than "ordinary flu seasons" and insisted on doing nothing and allowing people to "make [their] own decisions."
"Well, each of us in a representative democracy have the freedom to make that determination about the risk level for me as an individual," Perdue said. "We get in an automobile, we drive on our public roads, and a certain number of us will die on our public roads every year. In a situation like this, as long as we have good information, we can make our own decisions."
Perdue was also famously accused of insider trading for investing in a company that produced personal protective equipment following a private congressional briefing on the coronavirus in January, even while publicly minimizing the severity of the virus. He has repeatedly denied any allegation of wrongdoing.
A video of Ossoff grilling Perdue on those allegations went viral after their debate on Oct. 28.
"Perhaps Sen. Perdue would have been able to respond properly to the COVID-19 pandemic if you hadn't been fending off multiple federal investigations for insider trading," Ossoff said during that debate. "It's not just that you're a crook, Senator. It's that you're attacking the health of the people that you represent."
Perdue's office did not immediately respond to a question from the American Independent Foundation on the specifics of his work on coronavirus relief in Washington this week.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.