GOP Sen. Bunning Says to Jobless Americans: ‘Tough $hit’
February 26, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) is engaged in a one-man filibuster to block the extension of unemployment and Cobra health benefits to over a million unemployed Americans, which will expire on Sunday unless the Senate can take a vote on Friday. The universally despised Bunning, who was was asked by his own party not to run for reelection, has apparently decided to make some sort of deranged last stand and offer up a big flipping of the bird to his senate colleagues, and all jobless Americans hurting from a near double-digit unemployment rate. Bunning, 78, is insisting that the extension of benefits be paid for with the remaining stimulus funds. “I’m going to object every time, declared Bunning on the senate floor Thursday night. “I’ll be here as long as you’re here.” And when Democratic colleagues took to the floor to demand that the stubborn senator from Kentucky stop hijacking the entire senate, Bunning responded: “tough shit”
The senate session went late into the night, with Majority Leader Sen. Harry Red (D-NV) attempting, again and again, to bring a motion to the floor for unanimous consent, amid Bunning’s objections, to approve various measures that expire on Sunday, including unemployment benefits, cobra health care benefits, extensions of flood insurance, highway funding, small business loans and the compulsory copyright license used by satellite TV providers.
Besides depriving millions of jobless Americans unemployment payments and health insurance, Bunning’s obstructionism could also result in more than 1 million households losing television service. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), finally resorted to reading off the unemployment rates of Buning’s home state of Kentucky according to Politico:
“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.
“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.
And Bunning’s response to his Democratic colleagues, as he sat in the back row of the chamber: “tough shit.”
Bunning, a former major league baseball pitcher, also repeatedly referred to President Obama, when speaking to Democratic senators, as “your president.”
And as the senate finally convened last night shortly before Midnight, Bunning was heard complaining that he was “ambushed by the Democrats and was forced to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game.”
Unless Bunning stops his one-man filibustering show, the senate won’t be able to take up the vote to extend unemployment benefits until Tuesday.
The Senate as an institution has been destroyed by Republican obstructionism. And Sen. Bunning is a disgrace.
(Update: Bunning showed up to the senate on Friday morning, ready for another obstructionism battle. Sen. Durbin, attempted to pass the measure Friday on a voice vote, but Bunning objected.
“I believe it is unthinkable, unforgivable that we would cut off unemployment insurance payments to these people,” Durbin said. And looking right at Bunning, Durbin said, “Find a way to express your political views that’s not at the expense of these people.”
Sen. Harry Reid called Bunning’s objections “irresponsible” and “immoral.”