Republican Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-KY) insistence on blocking the extension of unemployment benefits for Americans across the nation has drawn a sharp rebuke from the Democratic National Committee, which labeled it a prime example of harmful GOP obstructionism.
Bunning’s adamant opposition kept up Monday, when he shouted at ABC reporter Jonathan Karl for inquiring about his stance, warning him to stay out of a Senators only elevator. Karl claimed Bunning flipped him the bird.
“Republicans would be better served if they were less interested in defending a senators-only elevator and more interested in defending American jobs,” said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan in an e-mail to Raw Story.
Bunning on Friday repeatedly and single-handedly objected to an effort by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to attain unanimous consent among senators for extending COBRA and other benefits to out-of-work individuals across America.
He reportedly made his point with an unusually harsh message for its backers: “Tough shit.
“Perhaps today’s outburst is because Republicans are frustrated that at a time when the American people want their leaders to get things done the most, their strategy is to repeatedly demonstrate that’s what they are interested in the least,” Sevugan said.
“Jim Bunning and Republicans have it backward. What Republicans don’t understand is that they shouldn’t be angry with the American people for questioning their obstructionist tactics, it’s the American people who are angry with them for employing those tactics,” he added.
CNN reached out to Bunning?s office for comment. A spokesman for the senator said “I don’t have any comment,” when asked about the obscene gesture.
The Associated Press reported that as a result of Bunning’s single-handed decision to block the extension, “[t]wo thousand federal transportation workers will be furloughed without pay on Monday.”
Sevugan said the American people “are paying the price for Republican obstructionism.”
“After saying ‘no’ to a Recovery Act that independent observers say created millions of jobs, just today Republican obstruction went a step further and actually forced thousands of Americans out of their jobs,” he said.
Bunning claimed his decision was out of concern for the national debt, and insisted that the money for jobless benefit extensions come out of President Obama’s stimulus package instead.
The DNC spokesman blasted Republicans for their opposition to initiatives by President Obama and Democrats on a variety of fronts, including health care.
“Adding insult to injury, Republican obstruction cut the safety net out from under Americans who lost their jobs, took away their health care and denied struggling small businesses who could create new jobs the loans to do so,” Sevugan e-mailed to Raw Story.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doubled down, disputing Bunning’s claim that he was merely being fiscally responsible and saying his actions were unacceptable.
“One fact remains clear: Senator Bunning’s actions blocked critical funding to millions of out-of-work Americans and caused thousands of workers to be furloughed this week,” said Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley. “There are no excuses for Senator Bunning to hold this funding hostage, and there is no explanation for the Republican leadership to remain silent on this issue.”