After Sen. Jim Bunning gave up his filibuster, the Senate quickly passed an extension of jobless benefits 78-19. All 19 of the no votes were from Republicans, and of those eight of them came from states that face higher than the national average unemployment rates and seven of these senators come from the South. This is the kind of ideologically driven vote that could come back to haunt Republicans in November.
According to the Institute for Southern Studies, eight senators who represent states with higher than the national average unemployment rate voted against the bill. These senators included Kentucky’s Bunning and McConnell, who chose to ignore the state’s 10.7% unemployment rate, Tennessee’s (10.9% unemployment) Alexander and Corker, Alabama’s (11% unemployment) Jeff Sessions, North Carolina’s (11.2% unemployment) Richard Burr, South Carolina’s (12.6% unemployment) Jim DeMint, and Nevada’s (13% unemployment) John Ensign.
Earlier this week, DeMint took to the Senate floor to praise Bunning’s courage:
I wonder if the unemployed people of South Carolina care about Jim Bunning’s “courage” or would they have their benefits so that they can put food on the table? Interestingly, not a single one of these Republican senators publicized their no votes on their websites, which is proof that these eight know the political fire that they are playing with by taking an ideological stand against the unemployed during a time of recession. If is fiscal responsibility is such a big issue with voters then why aren’t these senators still out there banging the drum after the vote?
This is the kind of vote that can come back to haunt an incumbent during a reelection campaign. It makes these senators appear to be absolutely ideological and completely out of touch with their constituencies. The Republicans had been gaining a great deal of momentum over the past few months, but their stubborn insistence on ideological purity is certain to hurt them with voters at some point.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association