Republican senator Jim Bunning dropped his objection to a $10 billion Senate bill to extend jobless benefits, allowing the Senate to resolve an impasse Tuesday night.
Bunning’s objection caused the expiration of unemployment benefits for 100,000 people yesterday, as well as the halting of a number of federal transportation projects and 2,000 workers being furloughed without pay.
The Kentucky senator agreed to relent after 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,” the Times said.
After Bunning’s turnaround, the Senate voted 78 to 19 to renew the programs. While Democrats were generally pleased, they said Bunning’s delay had caused major disruptions in federal programs and “could create bureaucratic problems as people tried to reclaim their federal aid.”
Some Republicans tried to distance themselves from Bunning, while others — like South Carolina senator Jim DeMint — were right behind him. “He’s my hero this week,” DeMint said.
Update: This ABC News video of Bunning deflecting questions from ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl in a “senator-only” elevator Monday night is a must-see.