Bunning filibuster ends, jobless benefits will be extended

The Senate late Tuesday ended Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-Ky.) two-day filibuster of unemployment benefits and highway projects across the country, although nearly two dozen Senate Republicans voted to support the blockage.

Senators voted 78-19 to pass a $10 billion package of long-term job benefit extensions, Medicare payment improvements and highway projects in 17 states. The vote came after an unsuccessful, 43-53 vote on a substitute amendment by Bunning.

The 19 ‘no’ votes included GOP Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderDemocrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico pressure builds; Big tariff vote Wednesday Senate votes to increase wind energy funding MORE (Tenn.), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoObamaCare premiums expected to rise sharply amid insurer losses Palestine is latest GOP offensive in climate change wars Senate GOP sticks with leadership team MORE (Wyo.), Robert Bennett (Utah), Bunning, Richard BurrRichard BurrThe Trail 2016: The establishment comes around Intel leaders push controversial encryption draft Moulitsas: 2016 dim for GOP MORE (N.C.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnGOP faces existential threat Sanders tops 2016 field in newly deleted tweets The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Okla.), Bob CorkerBob CorkerIran and heavy water: Five things to know Trump seeks approval from foreign policy experts, but hits snags The Trail 2016: The establishment comes around MORE (Tenn.), John CornynJohn CornynFirst US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMike CrapoBipartisan effort seeks end to budget gimmicks Republicans mum on possibility of Trump filling Supreme Court seat Senate approves first amendments to energy bill MORE (Idaho), Jim DeMint (S.C.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike EnziMike EnziGOP blocks slate of Obama judicial nominees Overnight Finance: New rules proposed to curb Wall Street pay GOP senator tries to tie 'No budget, no pay' to funding bill MORE (Wyo.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchSupreme Court wrestles with corruption law IRS: Annual unpaid tax liability was 8B Hatch asks Treasury for memo that decreases transparency of tax rules MORE (Utah), Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (Neb.), Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellIran and heavy water: Five things to know Overnight Finance: House rejects financial adviser rule; Obama rebukes Sanders on big banks Senators roll out changes to criminal justice bill MORE (Ky.), Jim RischJim RischSen. Cory Gardner endorses Cruz GOP lawmakers vie for convention power GOP senator on endorsing Cruz: 'I guess it depends on your definition' MORE (Idaho), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump seeks approval from foreign policy experts, but hits snags Many Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report GOP warms to Trump MORE (Ala.) and John ThuneJohn ThuneAir traffic control plan faces tough fight ahead GOP blasts Obama for slow economic growth Overnight Tech: Business data deals on FCC agenda MORE (S.D.).

Not voting were Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Robert Byrd (D-W.V.). Lautenberg was in the Senate on Tuesday but had been recently diagnosed with cancer; Hutchison was in Texas on the night of her primary election battle for governor, and Byrd had been ill during much of last year although he has attended critical recent votes.

Bunning, who is not running for re-election, had been blasted by Democrats and even criticized by some Republicans for his stand. The Kentucky Republican said he blocked the benefits because he wanted the bill funded by unspent stimulus money. GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsLarry Wilmore, Sting party in DC ahead of WHCD GOP women push Trump on VP pick Sanders is most popular senator, according to constituent poll MORE (Maine), a moderate, joined Democrats in pressing Bunning to relent, and many Republicans — including McConnell, Bunning’s Kentucky colleague and the Republican leader, declined to defend him strongly although McConnell eventually voted to support him.

As the Senate stalled, 2,000 federal transportation workers were furloughed and work projects were stopped in 17 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Kentucky was not one of the states affected.

In the end, Bunning was forced to take the same deal he rejected last week — an amendment on how to pay for the bill. Bunnign will also receive two extra amendments to a one-year extension of the benefits that Democrats plan to pursue later.

Democratic press aides had a field day with Bunning’s filibuster, blasting out several press releases calling attention to the situation, including distributing an editorial criticizing Bunning in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Among Bunning’s few Republican defenders: DeMint, who took to the Senate floor to complain that the bill’s cost will add to the federal deficit. In response, Democratic aides circulated an article from the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier that reported 23,000 South Carolina residents had their benefits stopped by Bunning’s filibuster.

Bunning also appeared likely to drop a sweeping, blanket hold on all federal agency nominees by the Obama administration, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid 'fairly certain' Democrats will win Senate Satanists balk at Cruz comparison Cory Booker is Clinton secret weapon MORE’s (D-Nev.) office. GOP Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) tried the same tactic this winter to force a federal project to be built in his state, but eventually gave in to pressure.