The Senate has adjourned for the weekend without passing an extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits. The immediate reason for this is Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning:
Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits next month.
As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along.
And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: "Tough shit."
This is horrifying. 1.2 million people are about to lose their unemployment benefits because of Senate rules.
Democrats can blame Bunning, but why did they adjourn? Further, why do so many continue to defend procedural rules that make something like this possible?
Democrats are going to get blamed for this, too. People who lose their unemployment benefits are not going to think "oh, this happened because one Senator refused to agree to a unanimous consent on a motion to proceed, so I'll blame that Senator." No. That isn't going to happen.
Democrats are in charge, and they are going to get blamed for this. Democratic attempts to blame this on Senate procedure will ring utterly hollow. Not only do people not understand, or care about, those rules, but it simply sounds wimpy and pathetic for the people running the United States Government to throw their hands up in the air and say "our procedural rules prevented us from doing anything to solve this huge problem. Sorry."
Democrats did not have to adjourn. They could have kept fighting Bunning. Further, they all agreed to the rules under which the Senate operates, and most of them are still defending those rules. Blaming Senate procedure is not going to extend anyone's unemployment or COBRA benefits, and its not going to win many hearts around the country.
Sure, Jim Bunning is currently the biggest asshole in the country right now. However, if you think that procedure is a problem, then start working to change the procedure. If you think that unemployment benefits need to be extended, then don't adjourn for the weekend when those benefits are slated to run out.