ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Remember Jim Bunning? He’s got followers.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is objecting to another month-long, short-term extension of jobless and COBRA benefits unless the bill is paid for elsewhere in the budget. The total cost of a month of unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies is just over $9 billion.
But wait, you say, recalling Bunning’s infamous elevator encounter. Didn’t we just extend jobless benefits? Yep. We did. But a longer-term bill to extend the jobless benefits and COBRA subsidies through the end of the year has become snarled between the Senate and the House.
Barring a surprise deal between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate or Democrats in the House and Democrats in the Senate, some Americans' unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies will lapse April 5.
A deal seems unlikely, though, and Coburn was speaking about the week of "exposure" that the long-unemployed will have when Congress is on vacation early in April.
The Senate will revisit the issue in the second week of April when Democrats try to muster 60 votes to overcome Coburn's filibuster.
Coburn and the increasingly united Senate Republicans don't want to increase the benefits without offsetting them with spending cuts elsewhere.
It is notable that Coburn seems to have more support among the Republican caucus than Bunning did. Republicans are rallying around the issue of spending.
Here’s Coburn on the Senate floor:
“We are now like the person who gets in trouble on their credit card. And the analogy doesn't stop there. What happens to the person with the credit card debt? The interest rises when you're only paying the minimum. So we have gotten to the point where the vast majority of our debt accumulation in the next nine years is going to be associated with interest payments rather than defending the country, rather than refilling social security, the money that we've stolen out of there, rather than picking up the deficit that's in Medicare, we're going to spend that money to pay for interest. so it's a double whammy. It's money that we're paying that isn't helping anybody.”
There’s a frenzied, but quiet, internal debate going on among Democrats on the Senate floor as to how to proceed.