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Kentucky GOP senator repeatedly blocks unemployment benefits on floor of U.S. Senate

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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 09:45 PM
Original message
Kentucky GOP senator repeatedly blocks unemployment benefits on floor of U.S. Senate
Kentucky U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning holds floor: 'Tough s--t'
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/33566.html

By JAKE SHERMAN & MANU RAJU | 2/25/10 11:24 PM EST

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/33566.html#ix...



Senate Democrats spent Thursday night hammering away at Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) for single-handedly holding up action in the upper chamber but he blurted out a message to one of them on the Senate floor: Tough st.

In an unusual display in the normally sleepy chamber, Bunning without the support of GOP leadership has blocked efforts to quickly approve a series of extensions to measures that would otherwise expire Sunday, including unemployment insurance and the Cobra program that allows people who lose their health benefits to continue getting coverage.

And that has led to a furious exchange on the floor, with Democrats attacking the senator, who has refused to relent on his objection, in unusually harsh terms.

In a colloquy with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Jeff Merkley, a freshman Democrat from Oregon, was pleading for Bunning to drop his objection, when the Kentucky Republican got fed up.

Tough st, Bunning said as he was seated in the back row, overheard by the floor staff and others in attendance.

A spokesman for Bunning did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

...

Bunning is furious about increased spending in the Senate but hes waging a lonely battle to stop it. The senior senator from his state, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, with whom he has a frosty relationship, is not backing him up. If he refuses to relent, Democrats will have to file cloture to shut down debate, pushing back final action until next week.

But Democrats are eager to have this fight; even though they know that Bunning remains largely by himself, they know that hammering away at the Kentucky Republican will drill home their argument that the GOP is out to obstruct progress.

On the floor, Bunning leaned back in his chair, legs crossed, as he listened to a slew of Democratic senators talk about the bill he is blocking.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) approached Bunning around 9:30 p.m., and they spoke for a moment before Reid left the floor.

Reid has asked for unanimous consent to approve the package of provisions that expire Sunday, which also include 30-day extensions of flood insurance, highway funding and small business loans. But Bunning continues to object to the unanimous consent requests.

To maximize pressure on Bunning, Durbin has been reading messages from Kentucky residents and unemployment statistics from counties around the state, whose unemployment rate stands at 10.7 percent, above the national average. One country, Magoffin County, has 21.4 percent of its residents unemployed, Durbin said. Merkley said he is deeply disturbed that Bunning can be is so disconnected from the challenges of working Americans.

Increasingly, more Democratic senators came to engage in the debate and increasingly, those Democrats were angry.

It is simply unfair for one senator to attempt to hold the Senate hostage on this issue, Durbin said.

It's "just awful," Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told POLITICO. "You've got to be pretty mad about something to stop the extension of unemployment insurance, he said.

Rockefeller also noted that Bunnings objection could turn off televisions for more than 1 million households, since the package has provisions dealing with the switch to digital TV.

Bunning, 78, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who is in the Hall of Fame, is considered one of the more eccentric members of the Senate. He doesnt mingle much with his colleagues, can be gruff and rarely talks to the press. For months last year, he insisted he was running for reelection but found no support from McConnell and other top Republicans and sharply criticized his Kentucky counterpart after he couldnt raise the funds to mount a serious bid. Bunning ultimately decided to retire at the end of the year.

On the floor Thursday, Bunning complained about how the measures arent adequately paid for. And he criticized Reid for killing a bipartisan Finance Committee bill to address the unemployment rate and for jamming through other bills that he said would amount to a frivolous increase in spending.

In his exchanges with Democrats, Bunning has repeatedly referred to President Barack Obama as your president.

All the spending portions of that compromise of those programs that youre talking about were paid for in that bill, Bunning said. Now explain that to the American people.

The rare late-night session drew House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to the Senate floor, where he spoke with several Democratic senators.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he would stay the night to defend the Senate. He wasn't happy, though.

"I believe we're stooping to a low level," Corker said.


At 11:36 p.m., Durbin tried one final time to offer a unanimous-consent request to pass the 30-day extension. Bunning objected, and Durbin consented to a motion for adjournment after Corker and Bunning had a few more minutes to speak.

They will adjourn Friday morning, but the worlds greatest deliberative body will not vote until Tuesday morning two days after the unemployment benefits have expired. There's no agreement yet for a vote on the package, but the Senate begins debating next week an extension of expiring tax breaks that could become a vehicle for the package.

...more at hyperlink
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tcaudilllg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-03-10 06:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. I fail to understand how a career in baseball prepares one for politics.
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kygreylady Donating Member (5 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-14-10 03:26 PM
Response to Original message
2. idiot
Bunning is an idiot. He should have retired many years ago....join my repeal and replace mitch mcconnell club on facebook!
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ailsagirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-23-10 06:58 PM
Response to Original message
3. He's not an idiot
He's a selfish, evil, sadistic SOB and he, along with his cohorts, should be boiled in oil.
Wonder how his constituents are doing? Most of whom, I'm sure, are unemployed.

:grr: :spank: :mad:
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