March 2nd, 2010
02:36 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Fact Check: Is Sen. Jim Bunning's stand against unemployment extensions in line with his past votes?

(CNN) - Sen. Jim Bunning set off a firestorm in Washington - and across the country - by single-handedly blocking a short-term extension of jobless benefits, demanding that it be paid for instead of adding to the deficit.

The $10 billion package also includes road projects and COBRA health insurance subsidies.

Without it, millions of out-of-work Americans can't continue to apply for federal unemployment benefits, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said up to 2,000 employees at his agency would be sent home without pay.

Bunning, R-Kentucky, says he's not opposed to extending the benefits - he just wants to make sure they're paid for without adding to the deficit.

"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 the U.S. Senate," he said. In response, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, asked, "Where
was my friend from Kentucky when we had two wars that were unpaid for during the Bush administration?"

And that got the CNN Fact Check desk wondering: Has Bunning always been so deficit-conscious, or is his hardball stance something new?

Fact Check: Has Bunning voted for other unemployment benefit extensions or programs that increased the deficit?

(Get the facts and the bottom line after the jump)


- Bunning supported the 2008 supplemental war spending bill, which included a provision to extend unemployment insurance benefits for 13 weeks. The bill also extended benefits for an additional 13 weeks for workers in states with unemployment rates of 6 percent or higher. Since this was a supplemental bill, there were no budget offsets for the extensions. Bunning voted to end debate on the bill, allowing it to advance through the Senate, and he also voted in favor of the final bill.

– In June 2009, Bunning voted in favor of the Senate's $106 billion spending bill to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through September 30, 2010. The bill included $7.7 billion to prepare for a flu pandemic and $1 billion for the "Cash for Clunkers" program, as well as other projects.

– Bunning also voted in favor of the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, as well as President George Bush's Medicare drug benefit plan, all of which added to the federal deficit.

– In January, Bunning voted against increasing the statutory limit on the public debt and has backed several other measures aimed at curbing the deficit, including provisions to establish 5-year discretionary spending caps. He also backed a failed amendment that would have terminated further spending under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the widely criticized bank bailout of 2008.

– Bunning argues that extending jobless benefits without cutting spending elsewhere violates the newly reinstated "pay-as-you-go" budget rules. Bunning voted against that legislation, which was signed into law last month as part of the bill that raised the debt ceiling. President Barack Obama urged Congress to bring back the provision in his State of the Union address, calling it "a big reason we had surpluses in the 1990s."

– Bunning, a former Major League pitcher who was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1996, announced in July that he won't seek re-election in 2010. He accuses GOP leaders of pushing him out by "doing
everything in their power to dry up my fund-raising." He was elected to the Senate in 1998 after serving 12 years in the U.S. House.

Bottom Line: Senator Bunning has voted for unemployment benefit extensions that did not include budget offsets at least twice in the past. He also voted for President Bush's tax cuts, as Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out, as well as the Medicare Drug Benefit plan which the Bush administration acknowledged would add to the deficit. Despite his push for budget constraints and against TARP spending, his stand against unemployment benefit extensions without budget offsets isn't in line with past votes.

Updated: 6: 06 p.m.

– CNN's Diana Holden, Matt Smith, Allison Archer and Dana Bash contributed to this Fact Check.


Filed under: Jim Bunning • Popular Posts
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    He's a hypocrite.

    March 2, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. librarian

    What else is new ! The creep has voted big tax cuts for the wealthy (including himself) and never shed a tear on the cost of the wars. Typical Republican!

    March 2, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Bunning isn't fit to be a dog catcher. Bunning needs to be put in a straight jacket for denying up to 500,000 families and children unemployment benefits.

    March 2, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. if I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    The facts reaffirm that Bunning is a typical GOP hypocrite.

    March 2, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Aaron

    This guy is the real deal as far as Republicans go...hypocritical and obstructionist. Rush should be proud.

    March 2, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. David

    How about taking Bunnings salary, expense budget, medical insurance and pension as a first step in paying for this bill. Stop playing political games on the backs of the most vulnerable, you want to pay for it reverse the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy (that you voted for).

    March 2, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Peter Vaguely

    Why does it always look like Sen. Bunning's head is gonna 'splode? Stand back everybody...I think he's gonna BLOW!

    March 2, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Larry

    Bunning is a big fat hypocrite.

    March 2, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. Jim

    Of course its not...another hypocrital Republican.

    March 2, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. if I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    I know it is unconstitutional, but I am beginning to think that anyone who runs for senate or the house of representatives should have an IQ above 80. That would prevent guys like Bunning from going to Washington DC.

    March 2, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Ken in NC

    It's bad when a Democrat has to switch party's to become a Republican but when Republicans try to push out one of there own it is really bad. Well this is the new day and now there is an additional step down from Republicans and it is called The Tea Party. I'm sure he will feel right at home among them. I hope one of their Planks calls for massive tax cuts and with the massive debt we have there is no way we will ever pay it down if tax cuts go into place.

    March 2, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. How To Bankrupt America-Put A Dem On It

    About time Washington woke up and realized this is not monopoly money being spent-good for Bunning,make Washington wake up and answer to the tax payers.

    March 2, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. Paul in ABQ

    Great pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. As a kid growing up in Motown, I'm pretty sure I saw his no-hitter.

    Arrogant, conceited, bombastic, hard-core partisan Senator. Resign now, before you've used up all of your good will. Wait, too late. You're all used up. Get out now!!!

    March 2, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. Bugl3t

    Another GOP temper tantrum. Will these petulant, angry 7yr olds EVER grow up?

    While you are stomping your feet and planning to take you toys elsewhere, let's just say:

    Don't let the door hit you in the *** on the way out. Good Riddance.

    March 2, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Andy

    Good for Bunning-about time the blank check is stopped,how many tax payers have an open check book .

    March 2, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. chuck

    A member of the party of NO saying NO. This is news.....

    March 2, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    Another GOP hypocrite who will do or say anything to make the President fail. Why do conservatives hate America? Have a nice day!

    March 2, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. JR

    Bunning is doing a great job of showing the true nature of the GOP,insensitive to people in trouble and prone to irrational grandstanding. With to see the face of the Party of NO, look at Bunning.

    March 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. IKHAN

    well,well. These people can in the blink of an eye approve BILLIONS of dollars of tax payers money to feed disastrous wars , BILLION dollar plus in aid to Israel Every Month , a couple billion dole out to countries like Egypt annually, go home with fat pay checks, top of the line health insurance etc. They have no qualms about pandering to the lobbies & special interest groups at the cost of the welfare of American people.
    But when its time for coming to the rescue of the same people who pay for all this in taxes they find it hard to breathe even.

    What a bunch we have in Washington.The irony is that the same people suffer who sent them there in the first place.

    March 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    Everyone reaches a point, where they say "stop the spending". Glad to see someone in Washington, do that.

    March 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. Robin in Tampa, FL

    What Bunning did should be considered criminal. Millions of people were directly affected by his grand standing.

    March 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Hypocrisy in a Conservative Republican? No way!

    March 2, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. Allen Hussein

    I wish Reid would grow a pair and force a cloture vote on this issue. I'd love to get the Pugs who support Bunning have to vote with him on the record!

    March 2, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. Mike

    What does that matter, he is only trying to enforce the "pay as you go" bill that nobama signed. If we cannot afford to pay for this ten billion how can we afford to pay the trillions nobama wants to spend? Answer: we cannot. So I support Senator Bunning.

    March 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    I say Cut out all health care for him immediately, his salary for the remainder of his term, and all retirement benefits he thinks he has "earned".

    Does that help?

    If it isn't enough, continue with cutting healthcare for ALL of Congress and cut their pay by 50% AND threaten their retirement benefits.

    Put them in the unemployment lines, with no insurance - they'll finally get the message.

    March 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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