Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-KY) blockade of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) extenders package finally ended last night, as the Senate passed the measure that will keep unemployment insurance, COBRA, and highway programs going.
Since Bunning's resistance made headlines, the Democratic message machine cranked out criticism after criticism of Bunning's move Monday and Tuesday.
But as Bunning has gained so much attention for blocking the bill--refusing to give his consent to proceed to a vote, without which the majority party would face procedural delays of roughly a week, even keeping the Senate in session on its off-days--roughly half the Republican caucus ended up voting against it.
Nineteen GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted "no" on the bill, which will add just under $10.3 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In the deal to end his blockage, Bunning got to offer an amendment that would have paid for the extenders; the Senate voted on a point of order that would have let them proceed to Bunning's amendment (effectively signifying a vote on the amendment itself); Senate Republicans (except for two who didn't vote) supported it en masse, along with Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Ben Nelson (D-NE).
On the floor, Bunning complained that Reid could have used procedural tools to overcome Bunning's objection, which he voiced last week:
"Now there was nothing stopping him from using the tools at his disposal to overcome my objection," Bunning said. "The Leader could have filed cloture on the bill and brought it to the floor last week...If he had done that, this bill would be signed into law already."
Senate rules, however, would have provided for seven days of time before a vote could take place, if Bunning had objected at each point along the way, had Reid needed to go through two rounds of cloture--one to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill, and another to invoke cloture on the actual bill.