Sen. Tom Coburn blocks bill to extend jobless benefits

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: March 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm •  Published: March 26, 2010

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn and other Republicans on Thursday blocked a bill to spend $9 billion extending unemployment benefits for one month.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the costs of the bill needed to be offset with cuts elsewhere, rather than adding to the national debt. Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky took a similar stand that ended earlier this month with a separate — and unsuccessful — vote on offsets.

Senate Democrats eager to begin a two-week spring break wanted to use a fast-track process to pass the $9 billion bill, which also includes subsidies for unemployed people to pay COBRA costs for their health care and money for physicians treating Medicare patients.

But Coburn objected. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tried to get approval to advance a bill that would offset the cost of the bill with stimulus money, but Democrats objected.

"Members who believe we should continue on our path to fiscal ruin will undoubtedly embark on an effort to dismiss my position as obstruction,” Coburn said.

"Obstruction is limiting the opportunities of today’s workers and future generations by borrowing and spending beyond our means.”

Senate Democrats said the $9 billion was emergency spending and accused Republicans of hurting people who already have been suffering.


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