Jim Bunning Working on Way Out of Unemployment Bill Filibuster?
March 2, 2010
(ChattahBox) – Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-KY) who doesn’t plan to run for re-election, seemed to have no qualms about taking the heat for holding up unemployment benefits and shutting down highway construction projects around the country, but his fellow Republican’s seeking re-election soon are not so eager. Bunning who is still filibustering a bill that would help thousands of unemployed people, federal workers, and Medicare doctors, is splitting his party.
Several Republican senators-from liberal Mainer Susan Collins to conservative Oklahoman Jim Inhofe want to restore the unemployment and COBRA benefits, but can’t get Bunning to back down. While trying to figure out how to blame Democrats for mishandling the entire matter, conservative consultants are telling their politician clients to distance themselves from Bunning if they’re asked about it. The GOP leadership has little leverage over the retiring senator, though some don’t entirely oppose his actions. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and National Republican Senate Committee chair John Cornyn (R-TX) have both defended Bunning. And Senator Jim DeMint, the conservative Republican from South Carolina said: “Jim Bunning is my hero.” Meanwhile, Bunning’s stonewalling is unifying Democrats, who see him as putting a human face on the consequences of what they consider Republican obstructionism. So far, Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn’t forced an end to Bunning’s filibuster, but again urged Mr. Bunning to reconsider, saying his push to pay for the $10 billion costs of the added coverage out of stimulus money had been heard. Now according to ABC News, Bunning is working with Reid, on a deal to pass the unemployment extension bill. According to Republican and Democratic sources, the deal Bunning is negotiating with Reid would allow two votes — first, a vote on an amendment to offset the bill’s $10 billion price tag with cuts in other programs, and second, a vote on the bill itself.