Sen. Jim Bunning continues to block an extension of unemployment benefits, COBRA and highway funding. As as result, millions of Americans who depend on these crucial, longstanding programs to help make ends meet now face uncertainty. Some members of the Republican caucus have supported Bunning. Sen. Jim DeMint, for example, said on the Senate floor today that Bunning "has taken a courageous stand to hold the Democrats accountable to the things that we say we believe." Many other colleagues of Bunning’s have remained quiet.
When will Republican leaders take a stand on Bunning’s filibuster?
SOME REPUBLICANS DEFEND BUNNING…
Corker Defended Bunning, Said Senate Was “Stooping To A Low Level.” On the Senate floor, Senator Corker defended Senator Bunning and said, “I believe we are stooping to a low level. The Senator from Kentucky and I agree on a lot and we disagree on a lot, and I am not here at this moment to debate the merits of either side. What I am saying is this is not the way the Senate functions. Everybody in the country now knows that the Senator from Kentucky has a hold on this bill. That is something that is honored. Not a hold on the bill, but he is objecting to unanimous consent, and that is something that we honor in this body.” [Congressional Record, 2/25/10]
Sessions Defended Bunning, Said He’s Blocking Unemployment Benefits “As A Matter Of Principle.” On the Senate floor, Senator Sessions defending Senator Bunning and said, “I think the Senator from Kentucky is speaking on behalf of the conscience of a lot of Americans, a majority of Americans, if they heard this debate. He is doing it as a matter of principle. I know he has no desire to see people not receive unemployment compensation. He is willing to support that. He simply is saying that enough is enough.” [Congressional Record, 2/25/10]
Sessions Again Defended Bunning, Said He Respects Bunning’s “Courage.” Just yesterday, Senator Sessions again defended Senator Bunning. Sessions spoke about Bunning’s actions on the Senate floor and said, “I respect him for the courage he showed. [Congressional Record, 3/1/10]
Cornyn Admires Bunning’s “Courage.” Senator Cornyn took to the Senate floor, suggested that Senators Bunning and Corker were not afforded the procedural opportunity to explain the GOP filibuster of unemployment benefits and said, “I understand that Senator Durbin retained the floor for the most part and yielded for questions, but basically the procedure denied Senator Bunning and Senator Corker, who I know also weighed in, an opportunity to explain precisely what was going on…. I want to say I admire the courage of the junior Senator from Kentucky, Mr. Bunning.” [Congressional Record, 2/26/10]
Kyl Defended Bunning, Said He “Made A Good Point.” “Bunning got support from Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, who defended his colleagues insistence of paying for the legislation with unused stimulus funds. ‘You can’t say that everything we do around here needs to be offset,’ said Kyl, ‘and then waive the pay go legislation every time you want to do it.’ ‘My colleague from Kentucky made a good point.’” [Politico, 3/1/10]
…WHILE OTHERS REMAIN SILENT
McConnell Took To The Floor, Didn’t Say A Word About Bunning. This morning, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor and didn’t mention Senator Bunning’s actions, or the 1.2 million Americans who are affected by the filibuster on unemployment or the 3,181 Kentuckians who will exhaust their benefits this week ALONE. [Senate floor, 3/2/10, NELP.org, 3/2/10]
When Asked About Bunning’s Actions, McConnell Dodged. At the Republican stakeout today, McConnell was repeatedly asked about his fellow senator from Kentucky actions. McConnell refused to directly answer the question and said, “We’re in the process of working this out, and hopefully it will be resolved in the near future.” [CQ transcript, Republican stakeout, 3/2/10]
GOP Not “Available For Comment” On Bunning’s Actions. “Representatives of senators in states that have seen furloughs, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah), did not respond to inquiries seeking comment about Bunning’s push. Aides to two Republicans running for the Senate — former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) — also did not respond to inquiries seeking comment, and a spokeswoman for Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a Senate candidate in Illinois, said the congressman wasn’t available for comment.” [Politico, 3/2/10]