The suffering of hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans eased tonight as Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) finally stopped blocking legislation temporarily extending unemployment and COBRA benefits, which stopped on Sunday. The New York Times reports:
It came after Mr. Bunning’s fellow Republicans began to air their own concerns about how the Senate blockade had the potential to damage their political brand while also having a direct impact on their constituents.
While Democrats hailed the progress, they also said Mr. Bunning’s decision to delay the aid had caused serious disruptions in federal programs and could create bureaucratic problems as people try to reclaim their federal aid.
“Sometimes just because we have the power to do things, we ought to think twice before we use that power,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No.2 Democrat in the Senate.
Bunning had been stating that he didn’t want to extend the benefits because the weren’t “paid for,” even though, as ThinkProgress reported earlier today, he voted for an unpaid-for extension during the Bush administration. Bunning’s obstruction affected the jobs of federal transportation workers (who have been furloughed without pay for the past two days), Medicare payments to doctors, television service for rural residents, small business loans, and flood insurance. The bill is now expected to come up for a vote tonight.