The suffering of hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans eased last night 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.
The final vote to pass the bill was 78-19, a rather extraordinary margin, suggesting that Republicans were not pleased with Bunning's ongoing charade.