Unemployment insurance and COBRA benefits expired for millions of U.S. citizens on Sunday after Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) single-handedly stopped a $10 billion bill that would have funded several extension programs.
In an after-hours session on Thursday, Bunning opposed the legislation because it would add to the federal deficit, which is already at an all-time high. He suggested that the money be taken from unspent Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, but Democrats objected.
"I believe we should pay for it," said Bunning. "I’m trying to make a point to the people of the United States of America."
Meanwhile, Bunning’s opposition to the bill also blocked the extension of several federal programs, a move that has put nearly 2,000 transportation employees out of work.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood blasted the senator’s decision on Monday, expressing his disappointment that "political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country."
However, while praising the Bunning’s decision to temporarily block the legislation, GOP leaders have admitted that the extensions will be passed. The senator’s one-man filibuster was made to point out the hypocrisy in the Senate, said Senator John Kyl (R-Ariz.), according to Fox News.