Posted by: Audiegrl
Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits next month.
As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along.
And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: “Tough shit.”
Bunning says he doesn’t oppose extending benefits — he just doesn’t want the money that’s required added to the deficit. He proposes paying for the 30-day extension with stimulus funds. The Senate’s GOP leadership did not support him in his objections.
And at one point during the debate, which dragged on till nearly midnight, Bunning complained of missing a basketball game.
“I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00,” he said, “and it’s the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina since they’re the only team that has beat Kentucky this year.”
Jed Lewison of Daily Kos produced a video of Bunning’s obstruction:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made a last-minute attempt on Friday morning to get Bunning to let the Senate move forward with extending benefits.
“We talk a lot in the Senate about procedure. Our debate sometimes relates only to procedure. And often that’s appropriate,” Reid said. “And, as we know, sometimes these procedural rules we have in the Senate are complex. But the issue before us today is not something that’s arcane, very ritualistic or complex. It’s very simple. And it’s clear — clear that it’s going to be a lot more noticeable by people Monday morning, because it’s going to affect the lives of thousands of Americans and their livelihoods.”
“By Monday morning tens of thousands of Nevadans and more than one million Americans who rely on unemployment insurance and health benefits will simply lose them.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) took the floor after Reid to stick up for Bunning. He noted that there is broad bipartisan support for extending benefits, but said Bunning was right to take a stand against adding $10 billion to the deficit. He also pointed out that the jobs bill that Reid scrapped two weeks ago, crafted by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), contained an extension of UI and COBRA.
“I admire the courage of the junior senator from Kentucky,” he said. “Somebody has to stand up finally and say, ‘No more inter-generational theft!‘”
And with that, the Senate adjourned for the weekend.