Late last night, February 26, 2010 Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) highhandedly and successfully blocked a bill to further extend a number of federal subsidies including, among other things: expanded unemployment benefits; surface transportation programs; the compulsory copyright license used by satellite TV providers; the federal flood insurance program; and health insurance subsidies for the jobless.
Senator Bunning’s objection to the Democrats’ proposed legislation was that the Democrat’s had made no provision for paying for it and it would therefor just add to the already crushing weight of the federal deficit.
Everybody in this chamber wants to extend unemployment benefits, but if we can’t find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports we will never pay for anything.
To be clear, Sen. Bunning had no stated objection to the bill in question other than the funding of it. He wanted some of the large amount of still unused Stimulus funds to be used to pay for the extension of the programs but his amendment to the bill to that effect was rejected by the Senate Democrats several times.
Sen. Bunning’s actions don’t surprise me. He’s a true fiscal Conservative who previously voted against both TARP and the Auto Bail Out, so this is consistent with his economic views.
So who really blocked this legislation and allowed these various programs to sunset tomorrow, the one Republican Senator who wanted the programs to be paid for or the numerous Democrat Senators who didn’t want to pay for them?