March 26, 2010

Yep, here we go again. Party before country, temper tantrums before the country's business:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) promised that he'd be the next Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) if he had to be. And last night, he made good on his threat.

Coburn is blocking unanimous consent on extension of unemployment benefits, just as Bunning did a few weeks ago. Only this time, Coburn's not alone -- the Republican caucus has joined with Coburn, promising to block billions in unemployment benefits just as the Senate is set to leave on a two-week recess.

Due to the timing of the blockade, benefits could expire on April 5, a situation that would not be remedied for a week while the Senate is out of town. Senators will return from their Easter break on April 12.

When Bunning blocked the benefits extension in early March, government programs funded by the money -- which includes everything from construction work, unemployment payments and doctor's fees -- were only shut down for a matter of hours. This time, with the expiration coming on April 5 while the Senate is in recess, the shutdown could last for days.

Coburn and the Republicans are making the same argument this time that Bunning made back on March 1: if Democrats want to extend the benefits, they need to find a way to pay for them. On the Senate floor, Coburn said he was blocking the benefits on behalf that old political standby, the average Joe.

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