Almost more astonishing than the fact that Jim Bunning spent a week blocking a short-term extension of unemployment benefits is the fact that 19 Republican Senators actually voted no on the final bill. Meteor Blades has the list:
Lamar Alexander, John Barasso, Bob Bennett, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Mike Crapo, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Mike Enzi, Judd Gregg, Orrin Hatch, Mike Johanns, Mitch McConnell, James Risch, Jeff Sessions and John Thune.
As you can see, this includes the Senate Republican leader and its #3 in the leadership, Lamar Alexander. The former head of the Republican campaign arm in the Senate, John Ensign, as well as the CURRENT head, John Cornyn, a guy who said that Bunning’s action did reflect the opinion in the caucus, also joined Bunning.
But I want to zero in on one other vote – North Carolina’s Richard Burr. It’s simply amazing that Burr would gift-wrap this vote for his opponents in a year when he’s facing difficult re-election prospects.
Elaine Marshall, the leading Democratic candidate at the moment, wasted no time in blasting Burr for his vote. “Richard Burr has turned his back on 400,000 unemployed North Carolinians,” she said. “For many of these people and their families, the extension was a lifeline. Senator Burr has shown a disturbing lack of compassion for his fellow citizens. He is clearly out of touch with the people he represents.”
There aren’t all that many Republicans in serious trouble for re-election. In fact, the list begins and mostly ends with Burr. How could he possibly take this vote? You can only conclude that he really believes that people who are unemployed because of an historic recession rather than their own abilities or skills don’t deserve any help. I think this won’t be the last time we hear about this.