Sen. Bunning Agrees to Allow Vote on Unemployment Extension Bill

By Sadie Bass

Mar 2, 2010 6:42pm

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports from Washington: Senator Jim Bunning has struck an agreement with Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on the unemployment extension bill later tonight.   The bill will pass overwhelmingly. Under the deal, Senator Reid agreed to allow a vote on a measure to off-set the bill’s $10 billion cost with cuts in other programs.  The off-set measure is expected to fail.  So, despite Bunning’s efforts, the unemployment extension bill will not be paid for. Bunning’s obstruction, however, continues on another front:  Democrats say he has put a hold on all pending presidential nominations, effectively blocking “several dozen” of President Obama’s nominations.
We have asked Senator Bunning’s office about this.  No answer yet. As you may recall, Senator Richard Shelby moved to block all nominations last month, but eventually relented in the face intense pressure from fellow Republicans.  Bunning’s move to block nominations comes on the heels of his refusal to allow a vote on the $10 billion bill for unemployment benefits until tonight.  The bill will extend Cobra health benefits, pay doctors who serve Medicare patients, provide funding for highway projects and give rural satellite TV subscribers access to network television. Over the past week Bunning blocked the vote, insisting cuts should be made elsewhere to pay for the bill.
The dispute caused thousands of unemployed workers to see their unemployment benefits expire and led to a furlough of 2000 Department of Transportation workers. Yesterday when we questioned Bunning’s decision to block the bill, he became angry and refused to answer our questions.  Today when asked about it he said, “We’re working on it.”

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