Two thousand federal transportation workers were to be furloughed without pay and federal reimbursements to states for highway projects halted Monday as a result of Bunning's decision to block legislation granting a short-term funding extension to a variety of programs, including the Highway Trust Fund. Bunning complained that the legislation wasn't paid for.
Bunning angrily rebuffed ABC when it approached him as he was getting onto an elevator at the Hart Senate Office Building. (Watch above.) Bunning told reporters to step out of the way because "this is a senator only elevator" to the Senate floor and said he had already explained his thinking.
According to ABC, when one of its producers saw Bunning leaving his office, the senator said "I'm not talking to anybody." He then "walked toward the elevator and shot the middle finger over his head."
Bunning, who is not seeking reelection this year, objected last week to Senate passage of a one-month extension of government benefits, including unemployment benefits, COBRA health care benefits and payments for Medicare doctors. Democrats pressured the senator to relent on Thursday and Friday, but he refused. Bunning is acting without the support of his fellow Republicans, and Democrats are casting him as out of touch with regular Americans.
At one point, Bunning said "tough s—t" when criticized for holding up the funding. He also reportedly "complained he had been ambushed by the Democrats and was forced to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game."
Bunning says he wants to renew the programs, which costs 10.3 billion, but only once they are adequately paid for. (He advocates using stimulus funds.) The Senate could use procedural motions to overcome his block and pass the short term extensions on Tuesday.