GOP’s Bunning blocks benefits for unemployed

GOP’S BUNNING BLOCKS BENEFITS FOR UNEMPLOYED…. With unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for the jobless due to expire this weekend, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed on a measure to extend the aid. The Senate was supposed to vote last night.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky, who has occasionally seemed mentally unstable in recent years, had other plans.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) launched a one-man filibuster late Thursday night against a bill with several popular provisions aimed at people hit hardest by the recession. So far, he is succeeding. […]

Although Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill) is expected to resume attempts to pass the extensions Friday morning, Bunning has said he will continue to object, and with lawmakers gone for the weekend, there is little chance the bill will pass before Sunday.

Unless an agreement is reached today, assistance for the unemployed will run out on Sunday.

This was especially rich: “As the fight drew to a close, Mr. Bunning complained he had been ambushed by the Democrats and was forced to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game.”

When one of his Democratic colleagues said it was time for Bunning to stop holding up the Senate, he reportedly said, “Tough shit.”

The package also includes extensions of flood insurance, highway funding and small business loans. Bunning insisted that if the financing doesn’t come from the economic recovery package, then he’ll delay the process as long as possible — regardless of the consequences.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.