Actions of KY senator delay unemployment benefit extension - News, Weather & Sports

Actions of KY senator delay unemployment benefit extension

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Jim Oldham Jim Oldham

By Janelle MacDonald - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The FBI and Homeland Security Officers were at Senator Jim Bunning's office in Hazard Friday after a bomb threat was called in. It's all over a controversial move by the retiring junior senator, who stood up against increased deficit spending for extended unemployment benefits.

"So it's their way or the highway and I'm not taking the highway," said Bunning (R-KY) on the floor of the Senate late Thursday night.

Time after time Thursday and Friday, Bunning was the lone holdout on a voice vote to extend unemployment benefits for one month at a cost of $10 billion. His actions effectively blocked the bill. The benefits are scheduled to run out on Feb. 28.

"I'm trying to make a point to the people of the United States of America," Bunning said.

As Bunning took aim at the bill, his fellow senators took aim at Bunning.

"On November the 4th of last year, you issued a press release entitled, 'Bunning supports extension of benefits for Kentucky's unemployed.' It wasn't paid for either," said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Majority Whip.

Bunning's stand drew equal frustration back at home.

"He's a Kentucky senator," said Jim Oldham of Louisville. "He's even in my party, which I'm not sure I want to stay in that party."

Oldham's son is unemployed, but he said he can help out his son. Oldham is more worried about his neighbors, friends and others across the country that are unemployed.

"It affects a lot of people," said Oldham.

It affects people like Todd Murgatroyd from Columbus, OH. He was so frustrated with Bunning's hold-up, he called our station to vent about the benefits he is set to lose and how he uses the money he receives.

"To help pay for groceries and rent and things of that nature and to see a guy nonchalantly say, 'Ok, no problem, I'm just going to say no every time,' well I think somebody needs to step in and talk to him," said Murgatroyd.

Late Friday evening, Bunning's office responded to our request for comment. Spokesman Mike Reynard said Bunning supports the bill but simply wants to find a way to pay for it. Reynard said Bunning tried to work with Democrats to use stimulus money to pay for the extension, but his suggestion was rejected.

The Senate will likely be able to overcome Bunning's objections when senators return to a roll-call vote scheduled for Tuesday. By then, however, the extended benefits bill will have expired.

The expiration of benefits only affects people who are about to run out of the normal 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits or people who are reaching the end of their extended federal unemployment benefits tier.

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