Maffei Blasts Senator Bunning and Senate Republican Leadership for Blocking Critical Benefits

Today Representative Dan Maffei slammed the Senate Republican leadership for blocking the passage of a bill that would provide an essential 30 day extension on a host of benefits that expired over the weekend. This emergency 30-day extension passed with unanimous support in the House last week, and is critical to the millions of families in need help during this economic downturn.

Representative Maffei said: “Despite some glimmers of hope that my colleagues in the House are willing to work in a bipartisan matter to best serve the American people, a handful Senate Republicans continue to act as obstructionists. Senator Bunning of Kentucky was not elected President and he should hold no veto powers. Senate Republicans need to stand up to him, and if they refuse, Senate Democrats should force Bunning to actually filibuster so he can show that he insists on stopping benefits that families and businesses in my district need.”

Last week, the House passed emergency legislation to extend a range of programs that expired this weekend (at midnight, Sunday, February 28), including:

∙ unemployment benefits,

∙ help with health insurance for the unemployed (COBRA),

∙ the highway bill,

∙ satellite TV,

∙ delay in the cut in Medicare physician payments ,

∙ flood insurance, and

∙ small business loan guarantees.

Despite unanimous support in the House, Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky is singlehandedly blocking passage of this emergency measure. Bunning does this in the face of serious consequences for families across this nation. Here are some facts:

∙ Nearly 1.2 million jobless workers, including more than 14,000 in Kentucky, will become ineligible for federal unemployment benefits in March with extended unemployment insurance program expiring.

∙ Letting the highway program lapse could put 90,000 jobs at risk in March – a critical time at the start of construction season — as bills submitted by states or local transit agencies for highway and transit projects would go unpaid starting Monday morning.

∙ Up to 2 million families could lose their access to broadcast television signals, after Sunday night.

∙ Potentially limits access to their doctor for some of the 47 million Americans enrolled in Medicare, due to the cut in Medicare physician payments.

Maffei continued: “Republicans in the Senate said ‘no’ each of the eight times that the majority has tried to pass these expiring provisions last week. The Republican leadership has refused to reject this irresponsible behavior, and they continue to refuse to stand up for out-of-work Americans. Though the Senator from Kentucky says he is protesting on principle, he has actually voted for nearly identical measures in the past. When other Republican Senators came to floor last week, the only defense they could offer for this indefensible behavior was an argument about Senate procedure.”