Workers on the Humpback Bridge in northern Virginia were told to pack up and head home Monday, one of 41 infrastructure projects around the country that ground to a halt due to the wishes of one senator, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.
"I'm going to object every time because you won't pay for this," said Jim Bunning, R-Ky.
Bunning stunned both parties by singlehandedly blocking a routine piece of legislation meant to extend certain benefits and subsidies. Because the bill didn't pass by Monday, 2,000 federal transportation workers had to be furloughed without pay, 400,000 Americans risk losing their unemployment benefits over the next seven to 10 days and Medicare fees for doctors were suddenly slashed by 21 percent.
Bunning held up the bill because Democrats hadn't come up with a way to pay the $10 billion price tag.
"We cannot keep adding to the debt," he said.
"Where was my friend from Kentucky when we had two wars that were unpaid for during the Bush administration?" asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
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Under Senate rules, any member can object to moving forward on legislation. Just last month, another Republican, Richard Shelby, employed a similar tactic - but that only held up a few dozen presidential appointments.
"When the victims in the middle of the debate are unemployed people, I don't think it's fair," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Republicans content Democrats are at fault here for bringing the bill up at the last minute. Both sides are trying to work around Bunning to pass it and restore all these benefits within the next two weeks.
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Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.