One More Time: Bunning Rejects Unemployment Benefits Extension
New day, same drama on the Senate floor.
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) this afternoon rejected the Democrats’ call to pass a temporary, five-week extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits, again citing the effect of that $10 billion package on the national debt.
“If we can’t find $10 billion to pay for something that we all support, we will never pay for anything on the floor of this U.S. Senate,” he said. “We cannot keep adding to the debt.”
Bunning’s move means that Democratic leaders will now drop attempts to pass a temporary extension and move instead to a longer-term fix. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is currently on the chamber floor making the case for that package, which would extend the filing deadline for UI benefits through December and provide states with additional Medicaid dollars, among other provisions.
The office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Democrats hope to pass the bill this week, though the process might spill into the next. Meantime, unemployed workers will be gradually exhausting their UI benefits at a rate of roughly 1.2 million per month.