Georgia's senators now in the minority

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss was ready to take the lead in writing the nation's next Farm Bill, but with the Democrat takeover of the highest chamber of Congress, Chambliss will have to forfeit his role as the chairman of the Agriculture Committee.

"I was very disappointed, but that's what politics is all about," the Republican from Moultrie said about the change in power in Washington. "Now, they are in control and they are the ones who will set the agenda.

But Chambliss takes heart in the fact that Senate rules allow the minority party a lot of power.

Despite losing his chairmanship, Chambliss said he can still make a major impact on the Farm Bill as the ranking member of the committee, and Democrats taught Republicans how to use the filibuster rules to their favor.

Chambliss's biggest concern is with funding some Democratic initiatives, including universal health care, which he said he would "love to see, if we could figure out a way to pay for it."

Georgia's senior senator said he's worried that the moves will increase the tax burden, and he's also disappointed that President Bush won't be able to continue filling judicial roles with conservative candidates.

Power shifts are nothing new to Georgia politicians, where Republicans took control of the state General Assembly two years ago.

"I was in the minority for 17 years in the Georgia House and I can work with both parties," U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said. "At the end of the day, I believe Republicans and Democrats must work together because we're Americans before any party. We should get to the business of the American people and find common ground to move this country forward."

Isakson said the shift won't cause him to change his tactics.

"I have always worked under the philosophy of 'people before politics' and I remain dedicated to ensuring that my work in Congress reflects the values and interests of Georgia's families, including bringing tax relief to America's families and small businesses, winning the war on terror and securing the U.S. border," he said.

Thanksgiving travel

By the way, Isakson and Chambliss want you to drive safer today.

The pair secured a Senate resolution to designate today as "Drive Safer Sunday," and Gov. Sonny Perdue issued a statewide proclamation doing the same. The measure is in honor of Cullum Owings, a Georgia college student who died in a traffic accident on his way back to school after Thanksgiving 2002.

Statistics show that the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest highway traffic day of the year

"As a father and a grandfather, I share the concern families have when their loved ones are traveling on the road," Chambliss said. "My heart goes out to any family, like the Owings family, who has suffered a tragic and untimely loss as a result of a traffic accident. So many accidents can be easily prevented simply by driving slower, paying closer attention to the road, and most importantly, wearing a seat belt.

"My hope is that this resolution will resonate in the minds of all holiday travelers and result in a significant decrease in vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities this Sunday after Thanksgiving."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.