In my last post, I took a deeper dive into what Spending Tracker can teach us about the records of Members in North and South Carolina. This week, I’ve got—shall we say—Georgia on my mind.

The Peach State has not one, but two high-profile Senate races. In the first, freshman Sen. David Perdue is running for reelection against 33-year-old Jon Ossoff. Ossoff is a former journalist who is perhaps more famous for narrowly losing to former Rep. Karen Handel in the 2017 special election for the seat vacated by former Rep. Tom Price. Polls have showed Perdue and Ossoff are locked in a very tight race.

The second Senate contest is perhaps even more fascinating: Incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler is competing in an open primary against a slew of Democratic opponents—and one prominent Republican, sitting Rep. Doug Collins. Collins drew early criticism from many Republicans for getting into the race, which some argued could jeopardize the Republican seat and flip it to the Democrats. Despite this, early surveys showed Collins leading, though more recent polls suggest Loeffler is now in front.

With three out of four of the top candidates currently elected officeholders, Spending Tracker gives us an opportunity to make direct comparisons of their records. So far in the 116th Congress, Loeffler has voted for the least new spending of the bunch, at about $1.9 trillion, with Perdue and Collins both voting for about $2.3 trillion. Collins, in fact, has proven to be one of the biggest-spending Republicans in the state—Rep. Drew Ferguson and Rep. Rob Woodall are the only Republicans to vote for more spending than Collins during the last two years.

But of course, as we looked at in the Carolinas, the numbers in the current Congress are driven in large part by votes on recent coronavirus response legislation. I’ve broken out the spending numbers of our three aspirants over the last six years, both with and without COVID spending included.

David Perdue

Kelly Loeffler

Doug Collins













116th ex COVID








Total ex COVID




A couple of things quickly stand out when looking at the data. First, Loeffler’s spending numbers—regardless of whether COVID spending is included—are significantly less than both Collins and her Senate colleague, Perdue.

But you’ll also note that I included asterisks with Loeffler’s numbers. That’s because she only assumed office in January of this year, and thus hasn’t served for the entire period of the 116th Congress. One of the most important bills Loeffler didn’t get to vote on, but Collins and Perdue did, is the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, which significantly raised the discretionary budget caps. Both Perdue and Collins voted for this legislation, which represents a significant part of their non-coronavirus spending score in the current Congress.

Another fact that stands out is that Collins has consistently voted for more spending than Perdue. With the exception of the current Congress, Collins has been a relatively high spender in comparison to his potential future colleague. In the 114th Congress, Collins voted for both the FAST Act ($207 billion) and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act ($145 billion). Perdue voted against both. In the 115th, Collins voted for multiple supplemental and continuing appropriations bills that increased his score by more than $100 billion over Perdue.

Looking beyond the Senate, the picture in the House is similar to what we saw in North and South Carolina. This Congress, Georgia’s lowest spenders are its nine Republicans. Rep. Jody Hice has by far voted for the least new spending—including COVID-19 votes, more than $500 billion less than Rep. Barry Loudermilk and Rep. Tom Graves who come in second and third, respectively. Hice voted against the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, which carried a cost of about $500 billion, one of only four Republicans to do so—and the only one from Georgia.

On the other end, Lucy McBath has voted for the most new spending ($2.3 trillion), and is essentially tied with fellow Democrats Rep. Sanford Bishop and Rep. Hank Johnson. Those rankings are essentially the same regardless of whether one excludes coronavirus relief spending.

New Spending

New Spending

Without COVID


Jody Hice




Barry Loudermilk




Rick Allen




Austin Scott




Buddy Carter




Tom Graves




Doug Collins




Drew Ferguson




Rob Woodall




Hank Johnson




Sanford Bishop




Lucy McBath




David Scott





One last note: You may be thinking, “how we can compare Members of the House and Senate to one another. After all, don’t they vote on different pieces of legislation?”

The answer is, yes, but not in the subset of votes that we’re looking at. Since we’re only looking at enacted legislation—that is, bills signed by the president—the House and the Senate necessarily must both vote for the bills. Thus, the samples are identical and make for reasonable comparisons across chambers. In a future post, I’ll take a look at how scores compare across all votes, not the bills signed into law, and what insight we might be able to glean into legislators’ impact vs. their intent.

Image credit: Sue Smith

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