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Bunning Blocks Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension

February 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The AP reports on Sen. Jim Bunning’s [R, KY] forced delay of congressional action to extend unemployment insurance benefits (H.R. 4691), which will begin expiring for millions of unemployed Americans on Monday:

The Senate failed late Thursday to extend programs for laid-off workers, jeopardizing unemployment benefits scheduled to expire over the weekend.

The benefits are part of a larger package of government programs, from highway funding to loans for small businesses, set to expire Sunday because senators couldn’t agree on how to pay for an extension.

The House passed a bill Thursday extending the programs for a month while lawmakers consider how to address the issues long-term. Senate Democrats repeatedly tried to follow suit Thursday night but they couldn’t overcome the objections of a single lawmaker, Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, that the $10 billion bill would add to the budget deficit.

The bill would extend subsidies to help laid-off workers pay health premiums through the COBRA program. It would extend funding for highway projects and spare doctors from a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments. It would extend a small business loan program, the National Flood Insurance Program and the copyright license used by satellite television providers.

The Senate adjourned just before midnight with no further votes scheduled until Tuesday. To avoid an interruption in benefits, senators would have to act quickly when they return, a task made difficult by Senate rules that let a single senator slow the process. Bunning vowed to fight the extensions as long as they add to the deficit, though he acknowledged they will probably eventually pass.

Even though unemployment benefits extensions are generally considered non-controversial, every time it has come up in Congress during this recession, Senate Republicans have delayed their passage for several weeks. The last time Congress debated an extension, in October, the Republicans held blocked it for five weeks, despite letting it pass in the end on a unanimous 98-0 vote. It’s about blocking the Democrats’ other legislative priorities, like health care and financial reform. Time is a precious commodity in the Senate, and with the Democrats considering the unemployment extensions “must-pass” items, they present prefect opportunities to the Republicans to stall the whole Senate process.

But I wonder if there is a paradox here: With the unemployment rate so high and so many people relying on UI benefits, the extensions are especially effective bills for the Republicans to use for killing time. But that also means that there are more voters following the UI extensions and feeling bitter about being used for political points. At some point, the constituent backlash must outweigh the political gain. That point will come sooner if the media tells the story truthfully.

Of course, Bunning is a lame duck. He’s not seeking re-election, which is probably why the Republicans are using him to be the mouthpiece for their delay tactics.

The bill is H.R. 4691, the “Temporary Extension Act of 2010.” We should have full data on it and a page on OpenCongress in the morning.

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Comments

meghan84 12/21/2012 1:33am

there is something very wrong with our government, lets vote the Republican out, we need a democratic senate. It’s too bad if you have to live on the street because of this; some of you (you know who you are) may only realize after sleeping on cold asphalt that the anticapitalist policies and vast expansion of government power that you’ve tacitly approved of over the years have put you in this position.

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sketch40 07/05/2010 10:27pm

its sad really. Congressmen like this person don’t realize the wave of change rushing toward them. by the time it is noticed by these people its to late to save what ever it is they value. The deficit is not the problem, its the way of life america chooses over & over again. This policy is not why this man an acting out like a child afraid of his own political shadow it not the reason he is jaded, he simply is. Until we being to believe in ourselves enough to believe in each other THESE UNITED STATES will debate the value of its citizens over the value of capital gain.POWER TO THE PEOPLE of AMERICA!

redz 03/02/2010 3:21pm

America needs to take care of AMERICA. We help out with so many other nations until I am just sick of it. I am tired of applying for jobs and only getting rejection letters. I am tired of picking up the newspaper and all the talk is about laying more people off. I live in Florida and the state capitol for that matter. Jobs are advertised a plenty. Do I ever get called for interviews? The answer to that question is no. Am I suppose to just go away and not exist if this bill is not passed. I think not. I will have to go on food stamps which I do not want. I want a job, I want to work but their are not enough jobs for all of us. I was told by the unemployment office that there are over one million persons unemployed in the state of Florida alone. I want this bill to pass if I am not able to find employment. The leg’s convened today in the state of Florida. They are already talking about layoffs. Georgia is talking about them as well. What are we suppose to do lie down and just die????

justamick 03/01/2010 5:08am
in reply to hardhatgal Feb 27, 2010 8:10pm

I understand the diffuclty you have in not having a job. I went through the same thing myself just six months ago. I have four kids to support so I understand. I sympathize with your situation and I pray that it gets better for you soon.

justamick 03/01/2010 4:59am
in reply to hardhatgal Feb 27, 2010 8:15pm

Are you serious? $787 BILLION has to come from somewhere. Guess where that’s coming from? US! Do you know what the debt for this country is at? $13 TRILLION. Or are you under the mistaken impression that money grows on trees? Lets say the country prints more money to pay for that debt… If the country creates more currentcy it causes the value of the dollar to DROP. There comes a point where you cannot spend anymore. There comes a point of saturation where the debt consumes and destorys. If these kind of reckless spending practices continue, there isnt going to be much of a country left for my kids to live in. The stimulus was reckless when Bush did it and it was just as reckless when Obama did it. The stupidity and corruption of both parties are driving this country toward financial ruin.

justamick 03/01/2010 4:47am
in reply to hardhatgal Feb 27, 2010 7:57pm

Democrats don’t care either. They only put up a guise to make you think they do. In reality, they’ll shaft anyone to get what the special interest groups want… Remember, it’s those people that fund the campaigns of the Republicans and Democrats.

I GUARANTEE that if the Republicans were the ones trying to pass the bill then Democrats would be doing the same thing! Don’t jade yourself into a false reality here. Be realistic.

hardhatgal 02/27/2010 8:15pm
Link Reply
+ -2

yes things seem like they are improving..i think the Obama stimulus is helping. its interesting how the Republicans are doing everything in their power to prevent the Democrats from suceeding

hardhatgal 02/27/2010 8:10pm
in reply to hardhatgal Feb 27, 2010 8:02pm

obviously you have no idea on what it is like not to have job

hardhatgal 02/27/2010 8:08pm
in reply to mr0wosso2001 Feb 26, 2010 10:27pm

it is very frustrating.. the irony is the unemployed NOW have the free time and power of the internet to become informed on our legislative process. it has become easy to see who is for the people… Republicans don’t care, they pulled the same crap when Bush was still in office in 2007. there is something very wrong with our government, lets vote the Republican out, we need a democratic senate.

hardhatgal 02/27/2010 8:03pm
in reply to docblh Feb 26, 2010 12:19pm

Perhaps he just does not care?

hardhatgal 02/27/2010 8:02pm
in reply to JSeverson Feb 26, 2010 4:22am

if this extension does not pass my Cobra will cost me $968 a month…i will be unable to afford it….i pay $350 a month with the subsidy… REPUBLICANS do not care about the average this is a tragedy!

hardhatgal 02/27/2010 7:57pm
in reply to justamick Feb 26, 2010 2:33am

the bottom line is Republicans DO NOT CARE about the normal regular everyday people.. they only care about the wealthy… this is a perfect example of how they don’t care.

mr0wosso2001 02/27/2010 3:37pm
Link Reply
+ -1

RE:Approved of over the years.
I don`t know how many days a year you get to vote on ALL of the issues. Sounds like you are one with Washington. maybe even a senator.

nmeagent 02/27/2010 2:01pm

It seems like some of you want indefinite unemployment benefits. If unemployment benefits weren’t repeatedly extend into infinity perhaps the individuals responsible for the governmental and monetary systems which caused the problem in the first place would be held accountable. It’s too bad if you have to live on the street because of this; some of you (you know who you are) may only realize after sleeping on cold asphalt that the anticapitalist policies and vast expansion of government power that you’ve tacitly approved of over the years have put you in this position. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.

mr0wosso2001 02/27/2010 1:59am

As far as what I said on helth care,Dont get me wrong I think most of the bill is a good thing. But first things first #(1) = Economy & Jobs.

mr0wosso2001 02/26/2010 10:27pm
in reply to docblh Feb 26, 2010 2:11am

The time spent legislating the Expansion of Emergency Unemployment Benefits is now catching up on millions of unemployed American families like myself and time is running out.Where is everyone going to live in the street.This is an emergency And everyone in Washington should treat it like a disaster,as the economy and jobs here in Michigan and the United States are,And should be the main focus there in Washington instead of health care. Health care dose not pay the rent or feed my family. While the country has experienced an unprecedented economic downturn this year,One of the most effective forms of stimulus has been unemployment benefits. Because we have to spend the money. We do not have the Luxury to put it in our savings,401k,or to bye stocks. According to NELP, more than 1 million Americans have seen their benefits dropped in January,and more than 3 million by March,if Congress doesn’t pass a bill extending EUC.Do the right thing and Help us Now,Not later when its to late

docblh 02/26/2010 12:19pm

Bunning doesn’t even realize the stress he is putting on millions of Americans when he is too concerned about a basketball game. I hope the Republican’s in the senate see that this bill is not just a power game but it will determine the well being of families all over the United States.

catfarmman 02/26/2010 6:56am

Before we get too carried away, Here in Michigan the job market seems to be opening up a little bit. I have sent out more resumes` since 01/01/2010 than I did in the last 6 months of 2009. I have not stopped trying to find employment and the unemployment extensions have helped my wife and I stay in our home, put food on our table and pay our bills. The entire Washington “machine” needs to understand that without the extensions, many of us will be losing our homes and become more of a burden to everyone. Pass the bill, get the money from the T.A.R.P. and start putting Americans back to work.

craddock01 02/26/2010 4:38am

Actually PAYGO can be bypassed if Congress deems it “Emergency Spending”which is what will happen in this case.

JSeverson 02/26/2010 4:22am

I seem to recall PAYGO rules being reinstated. My understanding is that it requires spending to be paid for and not added to the deficit. As important as this extension is, if PAYGO has been signed into law, it should then be followed.

justamick 02/26/2010 2:33am
in reply to docblh Feb 26, 2010 2:11am

First of all, let me say, I’m for this unemployment extension. But, providing unemployment benefits are not going to help the economy recover. What will allow the economy to recover is getting everyone into jobs. So please, do not be confused.

docblh 02/26/2010 2:11am

If you Republican’s can’t find even a little bit of an even ground we are all doomed. You are playing with the lives of million’s of American’s who can’t find jobs and if benefits are not extended it will further halt the economic recovery of our nation. Get it done!

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