Leading Republicans Rush To Bunning’s Defense (VIDEO)

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Two of the Senate’s top Republicans have now publicly come to the defense of Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), whose implementation of the Senate filibuster rules has led to the discontinuation of unemployment and COBRA benefits for thousands of Americans, and has resulted in a 21 percent fee cut for doctors seeing Medicare patients.

“My colleague from Kentucky made a good point,” said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) on the floor today. Bunning says he’s holding up the bill because he wants it to be paid for with stimulus dollars, during a recession. Kyl agrees.

Likewise, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)–who runs the Senate GOP’s re-election committee–said he sympathizes with his beleaguered colleague.“I admire the courage of the junior senator from Kentucky, Senator Bunning,” Cornyn said, also on the Senate floor. “It’s not fun to be accused of having no compassion for the people who are out of work, the people for who these benefits should be forthcoming, and I believe will be forthcoming. But somebody has to stand up, finally, and say enough is enough, no more inter-generational theft from our children and grandchildren by not meeting our responsibilities today. And that’s what I interpret him to have done.”

Democrats may be able to retroactively reverse some of the cuts Bunning is forcing–including to doctors treating Medicare patients. But even in those cases it’s causing major administrative head aches. And for those federal employees who’ve been sent home, or people whose jobless benefits have been cut, the situation is much worse.

Republicans haven’t exactly rallied around Bunning, who’s taking a lot of heat for interrupting key benefits at a time of high unemployment. But it’s not as if they’re distancing themselves from him or exerting pressure on him to cut it out. Far from it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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