Democrats On Unemployment Blockage: Thank You, Jim Bunning

Congressional Quarterly/Newscom

A trio of Democratic lawmakers took to the phones this afternoon to call out Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) for his decision to block a month-long extension of federal transportation and highway funds, a move government officials say will leave thousands out of work for the foreseeable future (not to mention the thousands of doctors that will see their income drop.)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (SC) and DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen (MD) on the call. All three slammed Bunning for blocking the extension, but Van Hollen’s take was a bit more nuanced. He began his comments to reporters by thanking Bunning for blocking the bill.“Jim Bunning has done more to draw attention to the procedural abuses in the Senate than ever before,” Van Hollen said. Compared with Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) short-lived “blanket hold” last month, Van Hollen said Bunning’s action has done far more to make the Democrats’ point that the GOP is holding up the works in Washington.

“This is part of the wake up call for Americans that Republicans are abusing the rules in the Senate,” Van Hollen said.

Klobochar agreed. “To see that one Senator could hold up what pretty much everyone thinks would go through,” she said, sounding exasperated at Bunning’s move, “well, that just makes no sense.”

Clyburn continued the theme of the call, stating that how Bunning could do what he did “is beyond me.”

Beyond Van Hollen’s claim that Bunning will unite the American people against Republican parliamentary tactics in the Senate, the move by the Kentucky Senator also appears to produced a rare bit of harmony between Democrats in the Senate and the House. The two sides have been at loggerheads over health care reform, cap and trade and other issues for almost the entire year Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

Klobochar seemed happy that Bunning had brought the Democrats together, if only in slamming the GOP.

“We just like doing things with the House!” she said as the call was ending. “We’re just trying to get things done here.”

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