It remains unclear how Republicans plan to counter. Although Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) appeared Monday to take up Bunnings cause in a floor debate with Durbin and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), GOP Senators have done little else to join in on the fight.
Part of the problem for Republicans is the messenger Bunning is known for his prickly personality and has a frosty relationship with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Several GOP leadership aides noted that while Bunning may have a valid complaint that the measure be paid for, they disagree with his decision to put popular benefits at risk.
Of course, Republicans could try to pin the issue on Reid, who, after all, decided to put a Nevada-friendly travel promotion bill ahead of the benefits extension package on the Senate calendar. And while that bill may be a top priority for the casino and hotel industries in the Majority Leaders home state, Republicans can and likely will make the argument that Reid should have moved the benefits package first. But that would require Republicans to explain why Reid is at fault. And as any good message professional will tell you, if youre explaining, youre already losing the public relations war.
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