GOP Senate candidates on Bunning’s blockade

The Washington Post reports that U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., again this morning was the lone vote blocking the Senate from extending unemployment benefits, highway funds and other programs in the face of mounting criticism from Democrats and pleas from his own party.

So how do California’s Republican U.S. Senate primary candidates feel about Bunning’s single-handed blockade?

Chuck DeVore believes that Sen. Bunning’s point about actually paying for spending with something other than more debt is pretty important,” DeVore spokesman Joshua Trevino said today. “It’s a shame the Senate majority doesn’t feel the same.”

Carly Fiorina‘s campaign addressed the issue without taking a stance on Bunning’s tactic.

“Carly believes extending unemployment benefits is crucial and that Congress can and should find a way to pay for it rather than continuing to push the country deeper into debt,” Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said in an e-mail. “Washington’s favorite game of one-upmanship that’s being played over this issue is exactly the kind of thing Americans are sick and tired of. Carly believes U.S. Senate should do what the American people elected them to do, which is get together to find a mutually agreeable solution to this problem.”

And Tom Campbell said the vote should be allowed to go forward.

“Sen. Bunning’s point is that we should take the money from the $789 billion ‘stimulus bill’ that was passed last year, of which more than $500 billion still remains to be spent. That would be preferable by far to adding to the deficit further; however, the Senate has to deal with the economic emergency at hand, and the needs of those who are out of work, and should go ahead without further delay,” Campbell said. “I do renew my call for a return to Gramm Rudman Hollings, whereby there are set deficit reduction goals, which have to be followed. Then emergency needs like this could be factored in to the important process of overall budget control.”

See what some from the other side of the aisle have had to say over the past few days about his single-handed blockade, after the jump…

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in a letter she sent Friday to Bunning:

I want to make sure you are aware that as a result of your objections to a short-term extension of unemployment insurance, COBRA, and other help for people who have lost their jobs, not only are 1 million people – including 201,000 Californians – losing their unemployment benefits, but the Department of Transportation has now furloughed without pay nearly 2,000 workers.

This is completely unacceptable. It is hurting people in your state, in my state and all across the country.

As a consequence of the furloughs, federal inspectors will be removed from critical construction projects across the nation, and work is already shutting down. I am attaching the Department of Transportation’s list of some of the affected projects, which includes critical construction work in 17 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

We can’t have an economic recovery if people can’t make ends meet and if transportation projects grind to a halt. I am writing to you as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee to ask you to stop this gamesmanship and remove your objection to the extension of the transportation authorization and unemployment benefits.

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“It is insensible that Senate Republicans – particularly Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky – are working to deny critical benefits to millions of families who desperately need this help during these tough economic times.

“Nearly, 1.2 million jobless workers will become ineligible for federal unemployment benefits this month.

“Republicans need to stop the madness and get with the program. Blocking legislation simply for partisan gain is not what the American people want. Enough of this Republican obstructionism that is denying families the help they need to keep food on the table and get through these hard times.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.