On February 26, Jim Bunning, a Republican senator from Kentucky, single-handedly blocked U.S. Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million U.S. workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits in March. The bill also included a provision to extend the SBA fee waiver and increased guaranty until the end of the year.
As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Sen. Bunning refused to go along. And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D, OR) begged him to drop his objection, Sen. Bunning replied, “Tough shit.”
At one point during the debate, which dragged on until nearly midnight, Sen. Bunning complained of missing a basketball game. “I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00,” he said. “And it’s the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina since they’re the only team that has beat Kentucky this year.”
His stance sparked a political tempest that has subjected Republicans to withering media coverage and cost the party politically. Sen. Bunning yielded his stance on March 2. As a result, the SBA fee waiver and increased guaranty have been extended until March 28, 2010.