Blame Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid calls on Democrats to plow forward on immigration Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada The Memo: Biden's horizon is clouded by doubt MORE (D-Nev.) for the lapse in unemployment benefits, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.
Bunning, in his first interview since raising a series of objections since last Thursday to an emergency extension in some federal benefits, blamed the top Senate Democrat for forcing those objections by not proceeding with the bill at a normal pace.
"He wanted the issue rather than solving the problem," Bunning said during an appearance on Fox News. "And he, as much as anyone else, was responsible for cutting off those benefits because he wouldn't follow normal procedure."
Bunning had objected to going ahead with a bill providing temporary extensions to unemployment benefits, COBRA health plan subsidies, and other programs. His roadblocks had drawn the ire of many Democrats, who sought to paint the Kentucky conservative, who will retire at the end of his term next year, as a poster child for Republican obstructionism.
Bunning relented on Tuesday night in exchange for an up-or-down vote on an amendment he'd offered to pay for the extensions out of unspent stimulus funds. On Wednesday, the senator accused Democratic leaders of reneging on that by only allowing a point of order.
"I had an agreement with Sen. Reid to get an up-or-down vote on my amendment to pay for these things," he said. "And you know what, they reneged. We got a point of order, which obscures what happened."
Bunning said he also plans to offer similar amendments to an upcoming, more permanent extender bill, though it's not clear whether he would make the kind of obstinate objections that brought intense media scrutiny his way this week.
The senator brushed off the media frenzy as nothing out of the ordinary, calling the press, "those wonderful little people in the media."