Bunning Caves; Senate Passes Unemployment Benefits Measure

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning finally gave way to pressure from his colleagues, allowing the passage by the Senate of a bill that will extend unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Americans. The $ 10-billion legislation was passed on a 78-19 vote. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation as soon as possible, giving way to the reinstatement of the unemployment benefits that were cut on March 1.

Also getting relief from the passage of the bill are some 2,000 federal employees assigned at the Department of Transportation. The workers were forced to take unpaid leaves Monday and Tuesday, as budget for projects they were working on was included in the bill. The legislation is a temporary fix and will last for one month. Democratic senators have already presented a new proposal that would ensure the yearlong continuation of unemployment benefits among other special projects.

Bunning had been under fire from Democrats and fellow Republicans for delaying the passage of the measure. He had demanded that Democrats find ways to finance the bill without adding to the country’s deficit.