Rep. Boehner Defends Sen. Bunning’s Blocking of Benefits Extension As ‘Legitimate’

By Edwin Mora | March 2, 2010 | 7:43 PM EST

In this Jan. 21, 2010 file photo, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. A one-two punch of bad news suddenly has Democrats facing an election year with campaign finance rules that favor Republicans and a revised Senate that can block Democratic initiatives. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Editor's note: A stopgap spending bill -- held up on principle by Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky -- passed the Senate Tuesday night, after Bunning was allowed to offer an amendment that would pay for the bill with Democrat proposals. But Senate Democrats used a procedural gimmick to oppose the Bunning amendment. "Democrats tonight showed their true colors by going back on their word on the agreement I had reached with Majority Leader Reid to have an up-or-down vote on my amendment to fully pay for the unemployment extension and other federal programs," Bunning said in a statement on his Web site.

Here is the rest of Bunning's statement:

"For too long Congresses controlled by both Republican and Democrat majorities have not done a good enough job of controlling the spending of the taxpayers’ money. My stand over the last couple of days was not against those Kentuckians who are on the unemployment line. I support the underlying legislation and support those who are out of work and need a helping hand. What I do not support is the hypocrisy displayed by Senate Democrats. Just over a month ago Democrats passed pay-go legislation and then turned around and waived it for the next two major pieces of legislation that were considered by the Senate. What was the point of passing pay-go legislation? If Democrats continue to ignore their own rules I will oppose future legislation that is not paid for."

 - House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) defended Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-Ky.) ongoing hold on a $10-billion extension in unemployment and other benefits, as well as money to the Highway Trust Fund, saying the senator has “a legitimate argument.”
Bunning has not given his consent for the $10 billion extension to move forward for a vote because it is borrowed money and would add to the national debt. He has offered to release his hold on the bill if the Democrat-controlled Senate agrees to pay for the extension using, for example, unspent money from the $787 billion economic stimulus law.
During a press conference on Tuesday, a reporter asked Rep. Boehner about Bunning’s actions with the following questions:  
“Don’t you worry about political backlash for Republicans? Doesn’t it step all over your message about jobs if you have one Republican holding up a bipartisan agreement on extending these benefits?”
Boehner answered: “Well, I think Senator Bunning has, he’s got a legitimate argument that he is making. You know, Democrats here just passed this pay-go legislation, and not, not even a week after the president signed it into law, they want to exempt the first bill that comes across the Senate floor from, from the regulation.”

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)

The reporter interrupted before Boehner could finish and said, “But you and your Republican colleagues already agreed to these extensions (last week) without paying for them.”
Boehner continued, “And so it’s -- he has the right as a senator to express his will and he has.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also defended Bunning, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, saying the Kentucky senator is making “a valid point” and “the fact is we’ve been living for too many years on borrowed money.”
On his Senate Web site, Bunning has posted remarks he made concerning the hold on the $10 billion extension.

“Well, we have tried to work this out with the majority, particularly after the pay-go vote last week," says Bunning.  "When 100 senators are for a bill and we can't find $10 billion to pay for it, there's something the matter, seriously the matter with this body. I've said that last night. I don't want to repeat myself. I have offered several ways to pay for it.

"If everybody in this chamber -- and there is no senators except me here right now, but there are 100 members of this body -- believes as the senator from Illinois does that this is essential and we should pass it, then we should pay for it.

“There are going to be other bills brought to this floor that are not going to be paid for, and I'm going to object every time they do it," said Bunning.  "I don't much agree with the chairman of the Federal Reserve, but it was striking yesterday when he said if at the present level of debt and the present administration's budget is passed, that the debt of the United States will be unsustainable -- unsustainable to me means that there is a chance of one of the rating agencies downgrading the rating on our debt.

"We cannot allow that to happen -- because I have got too many young grandchildren that want America to be the same America that I grew up in. And I'm worried to death that that's not going to be the case.”