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Kentucky's Sen. Bunning Singlehandedly Idles Road Construction Projects Nationally, Including Many in National Parks


Jim Bunning, Kentucky's contrary U.S. senator, singlehandedly has shut down road construction projects across the nation, including many in national parks, because he doesn't want to help middle-class families weather the economic storm, U.S. Department of Transportation officials said Monday.

The Republican's move to block key legislation forced the department to furlough nearly 2,000 employees and shut down highway reimbursements to states worth hundreds of millions of dollars, national anti-drunk driving efforts, and multi-million dollar construction projects across the country, DOT officials said in a release. Specifically, Sen. Bunning blocked legislation that covered tax credits for COBRA health coverage, unemployment insurance for 400,000 people, as well as the short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund. The Fund supports all surface transportation programs for the nation – highways, bridges, transit and safety inspections, as well as efforts to encourage seat belt use and to fight distracted and impaired driving, the department said.

“As American families are struggling in tough economic times, I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed.”

Because of the shutdown, federal inspectors will be removed from critical construction projects, forcing work to come to a halt on federal lands, the agency said. National parks impacted by the shutdown range from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where reconstruction of the Cades Cove Loop was to start in earnest Monday and Sequoia National Park, which has a huge construction project at its main entrance scheduled to Vicksburg National Military Park and even Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Here's a breakdown of affected national park projects:

* Coronado National Monument, main park entrance, $1,500,000

* Sequoia National Park, main entrance, $15,000,000

* Golden Gate National Recreation Area, road construction, $8,700,000

* Chicakamauga & Chattanogga National Military Park, construction, $634,000

* Great Falls Park, entrance road construction, $3,100,000

* Piscataway National Park, erosion and slope damage repair, $89,000

* Natchez Trace Parkway, resurfacing, $8,100,000

* Natchez Trace Parkway, trail construction (Ridgeland County, Mississippi), $5,600,000

* Vicksburg National Military Park, road rehabilitation and resurfacing, $5,000,000

* Natchez Trace Parkway, trail construction (Madison County, Mississippi), $4,700,000

* Carlsbad Caverns National Park, roadway rehabilitation, $9,000,000

* Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Newfound Gap road rehabilitation, $9,900,000

* Blue Ridge Parkway, reconstruction and resurfacing, $6,000,000

* Fort Sumter Historic Site, entrance road and parking area rehabilitation, $262,000

* Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove Loop Road rehabilitation, $6,700,000

* Shilo National Park, tour roads and parking area rehabilitation, $3,000,000

* George Washington Parkway, Humpback Bridge replacement, $36,000,000

* Blue Ridge Parkway, reconstruction and resurfacing, $12,000,000

* Virgin Islands National Park, Centerline Road reconstruction, $9,000,000

* Virgin Islands National Park, St. John roundabout construction, $7,200,000

Furloughs will affect employees funded by the Highway Trust Fund at the following agencies: the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.


I don't support Bunning or what he is doing, but in fairness, his rationale should be presented. His objection is that the $10B bill extending unemployment benefits and continuing transportation funding hasn't been paid for with budget cuts included in the same bill. He is insisting that $10B in other budget cuts be included, even though the bill is a stopgap measure for the next 30 days so that there is time to negotiate such pay-go for the full extension without the temporary shutdowns. Will the shutdown & restart and delays end up costing more than if he allowed the stopgap measure to pass? I think so.

This is the poorest example of false reporting I have ever seen! Bunning held the President's feet to the fire by applying the President's own recent Pay as You Go feet to the fire. This legislation was NOT funded. Report ALL of the facts, sir!

This is not a bill that Bunning should have used to make his point!

I know that it is important to manage the budget... but not at the cost of all those workers budgets! Or all those folks COBRA benefits! Bunning made a big mistake. Either he didn't take the time to think things through or he just doesn't care about the public.

Sorry, Sunsetreg, there's nothing false about the reporting. Sen. Bunning held up the legislation, and this was the outcome. That was the gist of the story. It was not intended to be an analysis of all the tit-for-tat that goes on in Washington, nor was it intended to dissect the spending habits of either the administration or the Congress. You start down that road and there are a heckuva lot of feet that will get burned. Suffice to say I think we all would like to see a balanced budget and deficit spending become a thing of the past.

As a Kentucky resident, Sen Bunning is my Senator. I know that historically 'Time' magazine, I think, classified him as one of the worst Senators. One reason he may be doing this is that he has announced that he is not running for re-election so he is essentially a lame-duck.

You are bending the truth slightly. Even CNN reported it correctly. Why don't you have the integrity to report the truth as to why he stopped it. The Democrat Congress passed the legislation that he used to halt it. All he did was follow the law. Just be honest and tell the whole story.

Have some integrity and tell the whole story as to why he stopped it. "Tomp" has told the true story, why don't you.

It's crystal clear that he hasn't the slightest bit of sensitivity to the effects on the thousands of real people that has harmed with this Moral High Ground grandstanding that he has embarked on.

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