Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Senator Jim Bunning Folds

Well, I guess he got what he wanted. He managed to get the Senate to sacrifice its "black liquor" subsidy to pay for the unemployment extension. At least he had principles, even if the fireworks didn't fully manifest. It feels somewhat anti-climactic (though perhaps not to holders of Boise warrants - you know who you are).

I'll always remember Bunning as "that guy that held up the Senate at gun point...and retired his seat creating an opportunity for Ron Paul's son Rand Paul to be elected to the U.S. Senate." Ah, you remember him, don't you? You know, That Guy? Oh, yeah, That Guy.

From this WSJ article:
WASHINGTON—The Senate Tuesday reached a deal to lift Sen. Jim Bunning's blockade of a bill to extend unemployment benefits, following new moves by Mr. Bunning's fellow Republicans to distance themselves from his tactics.

The agreement allowed Mr. Bunning (R., Ky.), who had complained that the $10 billion bill was not paid for, to offer an amendment that would fund the legislation by rescinding a tax credit for a paper manufacturing byproduct.

His amendment was expected to fail later Tuesday night. After that vote, Mr. Bunning was set to lift his objection to the underlying bill, which was expected to pass.

Mr. Bunning argued that the unemployment bill violated congressional rules requiring new initiatives to be paid for. Democrats said the extension was emergency legislation, exempting it from those rules. The public relations battle appeared to be playing out in the Democrats' favor as more than 100,000 jobless workers saw their unemployment benefits dry up this week.

Democrats also agreed to allow Mr. Bunning to offer two amendments on Wednesday to a longer-term extension of unemployment benefits and other programs. Both amendments are expected to propose ways of paying for that larger measure.

After the deal was reached, Mr. Bunning reiterated his argument that federal spending was out of control.

"If we cannot pay for a bill that all 100 senators support, how can we tell the American people with a straight face that we will ever pay for anything?" he said. "That is what senators say they want, and that is what the American people want."

Democrats said Mr. Bunning had been offered the same deal last week but refused to take it. "The real question in this debate is who we are as a nation," said Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.). "Do we care about these people, these breadwinners who are down on their luck?"

Mr. Durbin objected to Mr. Bunning's proposal to pay for the bill by rescinding a tax credit for "black liquor," a paper manufacturing byproduct, saying this revenue source was already set aside for another measure.

Mr. Bunning had held up the unemployment-benefits extension by objecting to Democrats' "unanimous consent" request to advance the legislation, a routine procedure that requires all senators to go along.