March 2nd, 2010
12:33 PM ET
8 years ago

Bunning block becomes lightning rod in Kentucky

 Sen. Jim Bunning’s decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits has drawn criticism from candidates looking to replace the Republican in the Senate.

Sen. Jim Bunning’s decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits has drawn criticism from candidates looking to replace the Republican in the Senate.

(CNN) - Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits has become a political lightning rod among the four major candidates who are seeking to fill the outgoing Kentucky Republican's Senate seat.

Jack Conway and Daniel Mongiardo, the two Democrats vying for their party's nomination to replace Bunning, have condemned Bunning's actions as they seek to resonate with the 120,000 Kentuckians who currently receive unemployment benefits. Conway, the state's attorney general, has called Bunning's block "outrageous" and posted a petition to register disapproval with the move on his Web site.

Mongiardo - the current lieutenant governor - is going one step further, holding rallies Tuesday outside of Bunning's offices in Louisville and Lexington. Kim Geveden, Mongiardo's communications director, told CNN the campaign had invited Conway to attend the rallies, though Conway declined. Conway is currently in Washington, DC for official business, according to a spokeswoman.

It's a different story on the Republican side, where the two candidates battling for the party's Senate nomination are heralding Bunning's move as a prudent act of conservatism. Rand Paul, a doctor and son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul called attacks on Bunning "unfair" and is holding his own rally in support of Bunning in front of the senator's Lexington office at 3 p.m. ET. Trey Grayson, Kentucky's secretary of state, who's battling Paul, has also applauded Bunning's move.

Video of protesters in Louisville, Kentucky after the jump:

The Senate adjourned last week without approving extensions of cash and health insurance benefits for the unemployed after Bunning blocked the measure by insisting that Congress first pay for the $10 billion package. The extension needed unanimous consent to pass because Democrats have labeled it an emergency spending measure.

Bunning has said he simply doesn't want to add to the deficit while Democrats argue that, because it is an emergency measure, the bill should not be subject to new rules requiring that legislation not expand the deficit.

As a result of the Senate's inaction, many jobless people were no longer able to apply for federal unemployment benefits or the COBRA health insurance subsidy as of Monday.

Filed under: Daniel Mongiardo • Jack Conway • Jim Bunning • Rand Paul • Trey Grayson
soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. John independent from NY

    I hated Jim Bunning when he pitched for the Phils. But recently he has become a hero in my mind. First he voted no on Bernake and his illusional Fed. Now he has demanded that someone in Washington learn about balancing a checkbook. Checkbook balancing should be a required skill before running for office but both Dems and Republicans are complete failures at this. If money is needed then stop spending it somewhere else. Pretty simple. Jim Bunning is ok with me. Flip em all the bird Jimmy!!!!!

    March 2, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Most Republicans - Wrong about everything, Wrong for America (and GW Bush was the worst President ever)

    A prudent act of conservatism. Translation. I have mine, screw you.

    March 2, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Ellic

    That is so lame that Senator Bunning think that low. For the sake of argument in regards to adding another 10 billion to the deficit, but does the deficit weigh more at this time than feeding people who have lost their job and not by choice? Also, it would be great if the Senator would provide the jobless with a job with about the same salary as their previous jobs have paid them. I think it would be fair to say that if he says that "people are not looking far and good enough to find jobs", then he needs to think again. I will ask Mr. Bunning to provide each and everyone a job as soon as possible. I think that is just fair. Find the job and I am sure the people would really appreciate that if he does that instead of opening his mouth. He should remember that the government is about the people...

    March 2, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. jackie

    Today, I became a Democrat. . . . and very proud of it !!

    March 2, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Monkey wrench

    This is too awful funny and very indicative as to how truly inept this Congress really is. Sen. Bunning blocks the bill due to the inability to fund, a bill past less than two weeks prior by the Dems that required PAY AS YOU GO on spending. Perhaps the little add-on crap stuck on to this current bill by the Dems regarding cutting Medicare funding also might have a little to do with it, but what a great vehicle to stick it on, FREE MONEY FOR THE UNEMPLOYED. How could anyone not vote for more FREE MONEY??? The truth be known, Sen. Bunning is retiring and doesn't give a hoot about the pork or the consequences by the idiot voters, he is doing what they should all be doing and that is being fiscally responsible. This is a great example of what term limits would do, make our Senators and Representatives legislate instead of looking out for their future earnings!

    March 2, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Jim

    Was Pres. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, without securing funding to pay for the war, "a prudent act of conservatism?"

    Was passing Bush's tax cuts for wealthy Americans, using the "reconciliation process," and eliminating Clinton's budget surplus, a "prudent act of conservatism?"

    March 2, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. malia

    ...a "lightning rod" for wanting accountability? I guess Senator Bunning is now the "villain" for wanting accountability, right?

    Liberals sure love to spend money but want NO accountability. You people should take a good look at California - spending is the name of the game in California.

    California has become the state of free loaders.

    I'm with you Sen. Bunning! And if you have to give ABC and CNN the middle finger again, please go right ahead.

    March 2, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Peter

    The stupidity of the GOP seems to have no limit......

    March 2, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Ferret out the BS

    As with many Americans their immediate concern is their wallet and not for the overall impact of unemployment not being extended, or immediate shutdown of federally funded jobs to the people. It appears that Republican ideology is to incur a full blown depression no matter what the cost. How will your political futures fair with voters being thrown back onto the streets Republicans? Actually I guess you really don't give a F- as long as it's not you on the street.

    March 2, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Chad

    Senator Bunning,

    One question for you Sir, could you simply just pass this bill and cut the pork later once you find something everyone agrees on?

    March 2, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Liz

    I think that we should take back our money and not give them to government officials for their pay, retirement, healthcare, or pension...they should go back to the real world and actually WORK! Then let's see how they feel about all these issues that they personally don't have to worry about.

    March 2, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. People's Voice

    There you go again, America. The Republican candidates are supporting the ending of jobless benefits for 120,000 people in their own state.

    How in the world can anybody support these greedy, selfish, uncaring Neanderthal creatures?

    March 2, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Richard in California

    I hope that finally the American electorate, especially those in Kentucky, will see what the Republican party is all about. Senator Bunning's actions regarding this emergency extension of unemployment benefits are exactly in line with everything else the Republicans in the Senate have been doing. Being the "Party of 'No'."

    He's putting up the smokescreen of "I want fiscal responsibility", while unable to defend each and every vote he made to approve Bush's irresponsible tax cuts (both of them), and the unpaid-for Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits. He voted yes to extend the reckless wars, which further sunk us into debt. Of course, he only did what every other Republican did for the 8 years of Bush's presidency.

    Yes, he's the only Republican to do this. But do you see any of his fellow Republicans castigating this ridiculous move? I've only heard hemming and hawing, saying "yeah... fiscal responsibility.. that's it." Then why did they kill the "Pay As You Go" bill?

    March 2, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. David

    When one person can destroy the lives of thousands, then we've given too much power to that one person. I wonder, if he were receiving the money, if he'd be so eager to stop it.

    March 2, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. shooter

    Take away this stupid ass paycheck for this month, lay him off and prohibite this skunk from collecting unemployment insurance, cancel this crook health care benefit and throw him out in the street. Better yet, take all his asset and pay for the deficit he is after. Let this old crook die.

    March 2, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. Dar

    You can only give money away for so long and then you become broke also. Who is going to help us when this happens?
    You know the ones who continue to work and pay our taxes so a person whos out of work can contine to stay out of work because they dont want to work for less than what they were making before they lost their job.
    Unemployment benefits have (or had) a time restrant put on it for a reason. Like I said above, whos going to take care of anyone once the state you are living in goes broke and the federal goverment cant give them anymore money because they too are broke.
    We have made this way to easy for people to take advantage of this benefit and now the Dems want to make it last even longer.
    I dont agree, the benefit was to give some one out of luck a hand up, but now it is turning into a hand out.
    Time to start letting people make their own way once again, if the free money stops, they will find a way to make ends meet.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    March 2, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. Enough

    Good for him for being responsible.........we cannot just keep throwing money around without a way to pay for all this spending. Unemployment is not supposed to turn into welfare......permanent.

    March 2, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. VernisRobertson

    Why is that every Republican politician from the south are red. I mean racist . Don't they know that black people can vote now. And that slavery is over . This a product of having racist ancestors.

    March 2, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Michael

    a "prudent act of conservatism" would have been to decline the Bush tax cuts unless they were paid for. There are no conservatives in the congress, only posers.

    March 2, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Kevin

    I can't believe that I am actually agreeing with a conservative on this issue. Keep in mind, Bunning is not blocking unemployment benefits. He is blocking an extension which the unemployed should not be taking for granted. Twenty years ago I was laid off from my job and I had to collect unemployment. For months I tried to find something – anything – comparable to what I did before. It made no sense to flip burgers because not only would that take me away from job searching, but the benefits (a small portion of my salary) was still better than burger flipping. But guess what I did when my benefits ran out? I flipped burgers, and when I got tired of flipping burgers I went back to school and began another career. This recession could last a very long time. It is unreasonable to expect that benefits should be extended repeatedly and for an indefinite period of time. On a related note, it is time to pass health care, time to force people to take responsiblity by buying the mandatory coverage required by the current bill. Even if the government suplements their payement, it is still cheaper than taxpayers footing the bill for the uninsured like we do now.

    March 2, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Stop The Obama Sheep

    Thank you Senator for standing up to this oppressive president's policies. Obama is a liar, and is putting us in generational debt. Bunning is defending FOREVER HIGHER UNEMPLOYMENT that will follow high debt and high taxes.

    March 2, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    So it's wrong of Mr Bunning to protect the long-term welfare of 4 million Kentucky residents in order to make the point that Democrats are hypocrites on PAYGO?

    I don't think so.

    March 2, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Rich Izzi

    Where was Jim Bunning when the oil companies were given billions of dollars worth of tax breaks? Where was Jim Bunning when Bush gave billions of dollars of tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans? Where was Jim Bunning when the Banks and Financial Svcs companies that caused this recession were given billions of dollars of 'bail-out' money? He makes his tax stand against providing out-of-work Americans with a financial safety-net??? Brave, brave man!

    March 2, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Independent_me

    There you go, America –
    If this doesn't show that Republicans put ideology before real, suffering people – I don't know else will.

    When these people are denied extended unemployment benefits, where do you think they will go? Straight to the welfare offices! They will add even more strain to local budgets, and the logical response will be to raise local taxes in order to support the increased demand for welfare. People who are barely holding on will lose their homes, and homelessness will grow...

    This is the kind of America Republicans believe in... and we want to put them in control of the government??? Where was their concern for the deficit when Bush started an unfunded war that added trillions to the deficit- or when he expanded medicare without funding it???

    God help us all!

    March 2, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. jackie

    I'm amazed to read comments made by Americans that have no empathy whatsoever towards their fellow American-Whats wrong with our nation?

    March 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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