Senate Democrats accused GOP leaders Saturday of giving tacit approval to Sen. Jim Bunnings (R-Ky.) filibuster of a short-term extension to unemployment benefits and called on Republicans to lift their objections.
This is just outrageous and irresponsible that we have to be talking about this. ... [Unemployed workers] did not cause this situation and this recession that theyre facing, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Saturday, arguing that Bunning has the tacit support from the [GOP] leadership who have not stepped up to end the filibuster.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) agreed, warning that average Americans dont understand how it is that Republicans are conducting a filibuster of legislation that would extend unemployment insurance, COBRA insurance, highway spending, Medicare payments to doctors and other social programs.
Bunning on Wednesday launched a largely one-man filibuster of the one-month extension, demanding that Democrats pay for the spending before agreeing to let the bill through the Senate. Bunnings filibuster has not been endorsed by Republican leaders.
Although Democrats initially kept their criticism largely targeted on Bunning, as the cantankerous lawmaker began receiving support from other Republicans including National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) and Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) they have quickly expanded their attacks to the GOP generally.
Democrats in the House and Senate also continued to intensify their pressure on Bunning himself.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) faulted Republican leaders for being unable to control Bunning. The leadership of the Republican caucus cant convince Sen. Bunning to cooperate with them, he said.
Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), for instance, issued a statement Friday denouncing the filibuster that also included Bunnings office number, and called on Michigan residents to call his office to register their opposition. Bunning spokesman Mike Reynard told Fox News on Friday that the offices phones are ringing off the hook and that most, though not all, of the calls have been negative.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.