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 AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (Tenn.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate appears poised to advance first Native American to lead National Park Service Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Wyo.), Robert Bennett (Utah), Bunning, Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (N.C.), Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnBiden and AOC's reckless spending plans are a threat to the planet NSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office MORE (Okla.), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (Tenn.), John CornynJohn CornynCornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoDemocrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Yellen confident of minimum global corporate tax passage in Congress MORE (Idaho), Jim DeMint (S.C.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziCheney on same-sex marriage opposition: 'I was wrong' What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Senate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill MORE (Wyo.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (Utah), Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (Neb.), Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (Ky.), Jim RischJim Elroy RischOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process Biden pick for China envoy raises concern over nuclear buildup MORE (Idaho), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE (Ala.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks 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 Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing 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 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’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.