Dems Seek to Raise Pressure on Jim Bunning's Block
Democrats were stunned when Republican Sen. Jim Bunning singlehandedly blocked a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits for thousands, but now they're turning Bunning's move into a political talking point.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Democrats have pinned the blame for the Senate's lack of action in the past year on the GOP's obstructionist agenda. Bunning's move seems to prove their point.
"The business before the Senate is literally life and death on many issues, and the parliamentary tricks to delay and obstruct the basic workings of our government have real-world consequences," Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wrote in an op-ed on Talking Points Memo. "On issue after issue, votes large and small, the strategy from the GOP at the highest levels has been the same: exploiting every Senate rule, playing every trick to try to slow things down."
On a conference call with reporters yesterday, Democrats blasted Republicans for abusing Senate rules, which have come under heavy scrutiny during the health care debate.
"We now have exhibit A in Republican filibuster abuse from Sen. Bunning," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), according to the Hill. "I think he's done more in the past few days to draw attention to Republican procedural abuse than anything we've seen before."
The political gridlock has halted construction work across the country and cut Medicare payments to doctors, among other things. The consequences have put Republicans in the uncomfortable spot of having to turn their backs on those who lost work or unemployment benefits because of Bunning's hold, or turn their backs on the fiscally conservative principles Bunning says he is defending.
"It's hard to argue with a senator who wants to become fiscally responsible, and we should be paying for as much as possible," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) according to McClatchy. "I respect the right of each senator to hold up major legislation. However, when it comes to unemployment benefits, I don't think it's fair to punish people who've already lost their jobs."
With Bunning planning to retire after this year, candidates for his seat are attempting to score political points on his move as well. Kentucky Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, a Democrat running for the seat, has said he would hold a protest rally if unemployment benefits aren't restored, McClatchy reported. Kentucky Republican Rand Paul will reportedly hold a rally in support of Bunning's hold this afternoon in front of Bunning's Lexington office.
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