Afraid To Speak Out And Criticize Jim Bunning, GOP Senators Hide Behind Susan Collins

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"Afraid To Speak Out And Criticize Jim Bunning, GOP Senators Hide Behind Susan Collins"

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) has been blocking important legislation that would temporarily extend unemployment and health benefits to laid-off American workers; these benefits expired on Sunday because Congress failed to pass an extension. Because of Bunning, 2,000 federal highway employees were furloughed without pay as of yesterday, and doctors are facing a 21 percent cut in Medicare fees, and more than a million people in rural areas may not be able to watch television.

Today, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) spoke up and asked for “unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of HR 4691″ — what Democrats have repeatedly requested in recent days. Collins said that she was supported by “numerous” other GOP senators who are tired of Bunning’s obstruction:

On my own behalf, and on behalf of numerous members of the Republican caucus who have expressed concerns to me, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of HR 4691 — with one of hour of debate equally divided between the leaders or their designees, and that following the use or the yielding back of time, the bill be read a third time and the Senate proceed to a vote on passage. […]

Madam President, I hope that we can act together for the American people, and again, I want to emphasize that this issue is so important on senators on both sides of the aisle. Many of my colleagues have expressed concerns to me that this was not done last week, when it should have been done. So Madam President, I do propose the unanimous consent request.

Watch it:

Collins’ speech reportedly had the “blessing” of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has refused to criticize Bunning thus far. In fact, after Collins’ move, McConnell decided not to follow her lead and instead just “launched into a speech criticizing Democrats on health care legislation.”

GOP senators have all largely stayed away from criticizing Bunning, and several have even wholeheartedly embraced his obstruction. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters today that Bunning’s block is “not as big of a deal as some of you are trying to make it.” Yesterday on the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said of Bunning, “I respect him for the courage he’s showed.” Similarly, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) has said that Bunning’s move is something that the Senate should “honor” and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has said that he “admire[s]” the obstruction.

So if there are “many” GOP senators upset at Bunning, why don’t they speak out? Why are they all hiding behind Sen. Collins?

Transcript:

On my own behalf, and on behalf of numerous members of the Republican caucus who have expressed concerns to me, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of HR 4691 — with one of hour of debate equally divided between the leaders or their designees, and that following the use or the yielding back of time, the bill be read a third time and the Senate proceed to a vote on passage.

Madam President, this is the House-passed bill that extends for 30 days the following expiring provisions: unemployment insurance, which is so important to those who are struggling –there are 500 Mainers whose benefits expired on Sunday — the COBRA health insurance extension subsidies for the unemployed, important flood insurance, highway funding, small business loans, the provisions of the American Recovery Act that included those small business loan provisions, the doctors fix. Madam President, if we don’t act, physicians all across this country are going to have a 21 percent cut in their Medicare reimbursement.

Madam President, I hope that we can act together for the American people, and again, I want to emphasize that this issue is so important on senators on both sides of the aisle. Many of my colleagues have expressed concerns to me that this was not done last week, when it should have been done. So Madam President, I do propose the unanimous consent request.

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