Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jim Bunning Gives In... For Now

Last night Jim Bunning gave up his filibuster- which, contrary to the mainstream media pundits, was NOT unsupported by the rest of the Republican Party- and allowed a resolution to extend certain benefits and projects through the end of March to pass. It's worth noting that eighteen Republicans voted against that resolution when it finally came to a vote- which means eighteen Republicans voted against:

* Avoiding a 21% cut in Medicare payments to doctors
* Extension of unemployment benefits
* Extension of COBRA health insurance subsidies, without which COBRA becomes immediately unaffordable to anyone not employed
* Various transportation projects, including road construction and public safety activities

But Bunning didn't just surrender. The Democrats cut him a deal:

In the end, the Democrats ended the standoff by promising Bunning votes they say he knows he will lose: first came his amendment to the unemployment bill, which failed last night. There's more coming, say Democratic sources -- the party agreed to allow more of his legislation to reach the floor, even though everyone knows the bills are doomed to fail.

The aforementioned amendment was to use Reconciliation Act funds- the 2009 stimulus package- to pay for the thirty-day extension.

But the important thing isn't that Bunning let the bill come to a vote, or that his amendment failed: it's that this could happen all over again in four weeks.

Consider: this extension runs out at the end of the month. The Senate might, or might not, have the final legislation to fund all of this for the full year done by the end of the month. If not, ANOTHER extension measure will be brought forward...

... and Bunning, who has never played nice and seldom held up his side of agreements with other Senators, will still be there, and he'll still be demanding that the stimulus funds be whittled down to pay for the extensions.

Don't take the "Unemployment Held Hostage" signs down just yet.

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