Bunning Ends Filibuster, But Puts Hold on All Obama Nominees

March 3, 2010

(ChattahBox)– On Tuesday, in another contentious late-night U.S. Senate session, the increasingly unstable Republican Senator from Kentucky, Jim Bunning, finally backed down from his one-man filibuster of the extension of unemployment checks, COBRA health insurance, Medicare payments to doctors, funding for highway projects, small business loans and and satellite TV for rural subscribers. The cantankerous Republican senator, who is retiring this year, agreed to a deal proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), allowing a vote on an amendment to off-set the bill’s $10 billion cost. The amendment failed to pass, with only 43 lawmakers voting for it, and extension of unemployment benefits was enacted without Bunning’s objection, 78 to 19. All 19 lawmakers voting no were Republicans. But apparently, the embittered Bunning is not through with his mean-spirited crusade of obstructionism. Last night he placed a hold on dozens of Obama’s nominees currently under consideration in the senate.

Bunning’s obstructionism led to thousands of unemployed workers losing their unemployment benefits and an unpaid furlough of 2000 Department of Transportation workers. Bunning was unrepentant in the face of the suffering over a million unemployed Americans, about to see their unemployment benefits expire. At one point he was overheard in the senate chamber uttering “tought shit,” and on Tuesday, when asked by an ABC producer to appear on camera to answer questions about his one-man filibuster, Bunning, a former Major League pitcher in the Hall of Fame, obscenely extended his middle finger in response.

Now, with hundreds of White House administrative and judgeship appointments remaining unfilled, because of Republican filibustering, Bunning has placed a blanket hold on dozens of nominees. According to ABC News, “Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), says that Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) has placed a hold on all pending nominations now before the Senate. He says there are now “several dozen” nominations on the Senate calendar.”

Last month, Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama held the entire senate hostage with an unprecedented blanket hold on nearly 70 nominees sent to the Senate by President Obama for confirmation. Shelby placed the holds, to exert pressure on Obama to approve pork projects for his state, including an improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. Shelby finally backed down and removed the holds, but he remained defiant, saying he wanted to get Obama’s attention.

Last month, Steve Benning of the Political Animal, referred to Shebly’s abuse of power as thuggery and his apt description is all the more relevant in the wake of Bunning’s defiant obstructionism:

“The abuse, the arrogance, the corruption … it’s just breathtaking. Shelby is proving himself to be little more than a petty, greedy thug, undermining our system of government until he’s been paid off to his satisfaction.”

As President Obama and the Democrats in Congress seek to move passage of healthcare reform through the senate in the face of Republican filibustering, by use of the reconciliation majority vote rule, Bunning’s obstructionism should make the process easier politically.


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