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.

Comments

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.

If Obama keeps spending this country into oblivion, we may just have to sell the national parks to China anyway. They are about all the federal government owns that are worth anything anymore. Is the Grand Canyon worth $15 trillion? Or will we have to sell all of them?

Kurt told the story of the effect on NPS visitors. Tomp added that Bunning is holding it up up unless it is "paid for", even though it is a stopgap measure preventing shutdowns for 30 days in order to give time for congress to negotiate the full extensions and paying for them. Both are "true". Neither are the "whole truth"; as Kurt states, that would require a great deal of distantly related information.

Sunsetreg: If you're going to complain that Kurt's post on the impact on NPS road projects (including delaying completion of some projects until well into the spring & summer high-visitation season) is the poorest example of false reporting you've seen, you should get _your_ facts right. Bunning isn't "holding the president's feet to the fire", his fight is with congressional leadership: in this case both party's leadership supported the 30 day extension. This isn't an Obama bill: it's a congressional stopgap because congress hasn't passed a full bill before these authorizations expired, and shutting down and restarting unemployment benefits, medicare payments, and highway construction projects costs substantially more than keeping them going until the full bill is passed.

Unemployed folks who need COBRA health insurance and unemployment insurance, federal highway inspectors on furlough and highway construction workers who were working on federally-funded projects, and doctors caring for medicare patients are all collateral damage, as well as the visitors to National Parks who will be affected by delays in the road projects Kurt mentioned. And, those of us who pay taxes (presumably all of us) are also collateral damage because of the additional costs of shutdowns & restarts: we'll either pay more or get less for the funding. You may think that cost (and the cost to NPS travel and unemployed folks) is worth paying for Bunning to make this statement. I don't.

You know the only thing that came to mind (and this could be the 6 cups of coffee speaking) when I read that we may just have to sell the parks to China (see Dave's post) were all the signs in China that had the funniest english translations imaginable. I can just see the sign at the Grand Canyon: "Please for not to be carefully falling in big hole"

People are objecting to this article because of the opening paragraph which states: "he doesn't want to help middle-class families weather the economic storm." Everyone knows this isn't why he blocked the bill. The quote has nothing to do with the NPS and should not have been included in the article. But the author saw an opportunity to take a shot at a Republican Senator by including this quote in the article. This makes the article nothing more than political propaganda and obscures the useful facts that it presents. I enjoy reading articles on this web site but when the articles discuss political issues it becomes clear that the author has an agenda. I read these articles because I enjoy the parks and want to keep informed of what is happening in our parks. Articles of a political nature should be kept neutral because our parks are neutral. On an aside, one should also ask why unemployment insurance and road construction are in the same bill.

Someone finally has the guts to stop the wildfire spending in DC and he is getting crucified for following the orders of the President. The President wanted the "Pay as You Go" applied and The President did not verbalize any exceptions. It is all the other gutless Congressmen and women that are putting this country in so much debt we will never recover.

While it is unfortunate the people affected by this are already hurting, the wild unfunded spending must stop, period. If it is an insignificant dollar amount as many supporters say it is, why haven't they identified the area to cut. Reason is they are gutless!!

And cut me a break, while I am a significant user of National Parks and other state and federal lands, if none of the projects listed by Kurt were not completed in the next several years the world would not end, no one would die, and I could still visit the parks and lands.

Kurt's rendition of Bunning's actions are certainly slanted and critical of brave Senator. Kurt makes him out to be the "troll under the bridge" but Bunning is actually representing all tax paying Americans and doing it legally. We need more Senators to stand up for the taxpayers...Bunning is a welcomed guest in my foxhole...not sure about some of you others.

I wonder what the response would have been had I written, "Sen. Bunning, using middle-class Americans as pawns, singlehandedly halted a spending bill and forced thousands of federal workers off their jobs, delayed unemployment and health care benefits for hundreds of thousands, and put in limbo dozens of road projects heading into the travel season"?

Certainly that's what he was doing, figuring that by putting so many in jeopardy that the Senate majority would side with him. Instead they called his bluff. And Sen. Bunning whined about missing the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game.

Now, Concerned Taxpayer, does the senator from Kentucky really have the guts to stop "wildfire spending"? Are you aware that during the 2008-09 congressional cycle he alone earmarked $18 million for such projects as renovations at the Central Kentucky Agriculture and Expo Center, construction of One Stop Training Center at the Bell-Whitley Community Agency, equipment for the Breathitt Veterinary Clinic at Murray State University, an Anti-Sniper Infrared Targeting System, Soldier Barracks Roof Removal and Replacement at Fort Knox, and sewer renovation for the City of Vanceburg, among other projects?

And did you also know that he was a cosponsor of nearly $52 million worth of other earmarks, for a grand total of $69,686,575 in just one year!

Now, that's not to say all the projects funded with those earmarks are wasteful, but it's safe to say they added to the current budget problems, so let's not paint the gentleman from Kentucky as a budget hawk without his own skeletons.

And yet, it's also probably safe to say some of those projects no doubt wouldn't have gotten funded any other way. And that's what's wrong with the system. Congress has built a system that often requires sleight of political hand to fund needy projects without the glimpse of daylight, and along the way they toss in scads of unneeded projects.

As for whether I have an agenda, it's solely focused on promoting the national parks and building more advocates for them. We long applauded the late Sen. Craig Thomas, a Republican from Wyoming, for his advocacy and support for the parks. We have also acknowledged the efforts by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, back in 2006 to stop a drastic rewrite of the National Park Service's Management Policies. And last October we ran a story that singled out two other Republicans in a story on an environmental scorecard from Republicans for Environmental Responsibility:

You can't assume that party affiliation automatically leads to a specific outcome. Here's what Republicans for Environmental Protection had to say about Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine:

REP is proud to honor Senator Susan Collins of Maine as the “Greenest Republican in Congress” for the second year in a row. Susan Collins has been ahead of the curve on energy and climate issues since her election to the U.S. Senate in 1996. More aware than many of her colleagues about the risks of global climate change, Collins has been an outspoken supporter of strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through conservative energy policies to improve efficiency, reduce overdependence on oil, and diversify America’s energy resources. Collins has diligently worked at learning the complex science of climate change and applied her knowledge to lawmaking. She has visited Alaska and other polar regions to meet with climate scientists and see firsthand the impacts of climate change. In the 110th Congress, she cosponsored S. 280, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act introduced by colleagues John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).

Often going against the grain of party leaders, Collins has opposed business-as-usual energy legislation that fails to address security, economic, and environmental problems caused by our current energy choices. She has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to boost motor vehicle fuel economy standards and provide tax incentives for purchasing hybrid-electric and alternative-fuel vehicles. Collins has supported a national renewable energy standard and stronger controls on power plant mercury emissions.

Good stewardship of America’s natural heritage also is a high Collins priority. She has fought to protect from the environmental risks of oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Georges Bank off New England’s coast.

In the House, the organization applauded the work of Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois:

REP had high hopes for a young Illinois Republican named Mark Kirk when he first ran for the House in 2000. He was the first congressional candidate we ever endorsed, and we are happy to say he has fulfilled our expectations—and then some. Kirk is the top-scoring House member in REP’s 2008 Congressional Scorecard. His score of 105 is the functional equivalent of Senator Collins’ score of 107. Each had a perfect score on votes and received one leadership credit. Kirk has been a steadfast champion of protecting the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, keeping the air free of harmful pollutants, developing cleaner energy sources, and protecting America’s many natural treasures. As a leader in the Tuesday Group, he is a strong advocate for a “suburban agenda” that includes the good environmental stewardship supported by suburban Americans across the country.

Among Kirk’s top priorities is fighting threats to the Great Lakes, including toxic pollutants, invasive species, and wetlands loss. He has worked hard to reduce mercury emissions from power plants, which is a serious public health menace as well as a threat to the Great Lakes’ ecosystem. Kirk also has given high priority to energy efficiency and developing cleaner energy sources. He has supported higher motor vehicle fuel economy standards and sponsored legislation to expand use of renewable resources such as biofuels, solar, wind, and geothermal. America’s natural treasures have a strong defender in Kirk. He has opposed efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, supported permanent protection of national forest roadless areas, and backed legislation to give statutory permanence to the National Landscape Conservation System.

So, with that laid out, we'd be happy to profile any Congress person of any political stripe that works for the parks. Toss us your nominees!

What Sen. Bunning is doing is drawing attention to the lack of funding for for the bill. You have attempted to try and turn this into a Bunning attacks National Parks Service type of issue and most people are seeing right through your one sided story. Money for both unemployment "benefits" and the NPS as well must come from somewhere. Where do YOU suppose the elected officials should cut the budget to pay for YOUR favorite projects? Or would YOU favor raising the federal income tax rates on everyone to pay more for the NPS? If so, where does it stop? The powers in charge of the federal government want to use the national credit card to run up more and more debt (to primarily the Chinese, they are who we currently borrow the most from) to give out more and more money to their selected groups of friends and supporters. If this type of shinnanigans continues, eventually you will be paying ALL of your earned money to the IRS and still owe them more! Wake up!

Bringing Bunning's past votes up and say it is disingenuous of him to stand up to something that is against you agenda is a weak agument, to say the least, especially if that person is a politician. I think someone of great prominence once said, "He who is without sin cast the first stone". I will stand on the capitol steps with all of Congress, with stones in their hands and I doubt I would have to duck...not even once...well, excepting those thrown by the aethiasts. Additionally, comparing Bunning's 70 million to this 10 billion stop gap...well do the math, not even close.

We need more Davids to go against all the Goliaths. When do we stop the spending? When it doesn't affect National Parks? Child Welfare?, SS? Head Start? Medicare? Name a program and there will be an "activist" chasting David but at some point special intrests groups must understand it has to stop. Sen Bunning stood up to all the Goliaths, politicians, activists, colleagues, etc. and hopefully, he will win as the young David did. I love the parks, the animals, the fishing, the scenery and if it must suffer a few years to right this terrible wrong...then so be it. Trust me the alternative will be significantly worse.

Concerned Taxpayer, to use your approach, what's $10 billion against a national debt of $12.5 trillion? Not even close.

"Davids" won't work under the current system. The system needs to be overhauled. As long as there's no balanced budget amendment, no line-item veto, and no real oversight on earmarks, the outlook is grim without a rip-roaring economy.

Chris M, I'm fully awake, thank you very much. Now, I've said it many times before on these pages: one way to begin to bring spending under control is to do away with earmarks ... even those for the national parks. Then put a moratorium on Congress creating new units of the National Park System if they can't find a way to properly fund the ones we already have. You want pay-go? That's one way to achieve it for the parks. I alluded recently to one small way the NPS could actually raise some money without raising anyone's taxes: Congress needs to give the NPS the authority to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars it collects in entrance fees. Now, this won't generate enough interest to erase all the red ink in the NPS, but it's one small way to raise millions of dollars.

There are other approaches, such as means testing for Social Security benefits, that would help move us back in the direction of a balanced budget. Perhaps Sen. Bunning could have attracted just as much attention, without hurting potentially hundreds of thousands of people, if he seriously took on any one of these approaches. But then, he's got his congressional health care and his congressional pension.

Kurt,

Your last comments are more on the mark than your article. I read your article again and it smacks of an agenda. I'm sorry. If you truly don't have a political agenda then you should just stick to the facts about the contents of the bill rather than repeating Obama administration propaganda. You would get more mileage out of your articles that way.

Regarding entrance fees, I have often wondered why the entrance fees on our parks are not substantially higher. It costs me about $40 for a family of four to buy tickets to a professional baseball game (a 3 hour event). Or $60 for two tickets to a local college football game. But I can drive a van load of people into Rocky Mountain National Park for $20 for 7 days!!! Now that's a bargain like none other. If NPS could charge $20 per *day* they'd probably pave more roads on their own. I can take the same van load of people into Smoky Mountain National Park for free!!! That's insane if you think about it.

Getting back on my political soap box for a moment, before you complain too much about the Senator causing construction workers to be laid off, consider that President Obama canceled NASA's Constellation Program after some of the hardware has been built. Heck, the launch tower has been built too. The latest estimate on job losses is about 30,000. That's 30,000 high tech jobs lost during an economic down turn when we can least afford to lose such jobs. Right now I'm more concerned about whether or not my city is going to be decimated by job losses rather than whether or not a bridge in a park is going to be rebuilt or not.

The simple fact of the matter is that our government has run out of money and the population can't afford a tax increase to fix the problem. We can no longer afford everything that we want. Next year you might be writing an article about our government being bankrupt and the NPS budget being $0.00 because we don't have any money left.

As I write this the bill has now passed the Senate. Back to paving those roads. Quickly, while the US dollar is still worth enough to buy asphalt.

Just for fun, let's toss in another idea: Cut off funding for the House and Senate until our august leaders can identify how to pay for those activities without contributing to the deficit :-)

Should we raise taxes? Absolutely. Bunning's question is a good one. He won't like my answer.

Your waste of money is my important project. Which is why we have a political process. As reported today his temper tantrum is over.

Looks like you finally got it the spending needs to get in control. Davids will work in this system...if Bunning gets his way perhaps it will give another congressional person a desire to get a set of brass ones. I find it amazing how some people look at adversity and give up before fighting the fight.

Critics of Bunning should read this quote from Roosevelt and maybe they will understand why people take chances knowing there are adverse consequences.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Sorry, but it's kinda hard to take those right wing Obamaspendingourgrandkids folks seriously when such a significant portion of our deficit was raised by our previous President and his personal wars. Kinda drowns out the drop in a bucket for unemployment benefits or, more on topic, the entire NPS budget.

You guys just don't get it...it doesn't matter how we got this mess...but it does matter how we get out. Continued unfunded spending must end...period. I can place go on for years playing tit for tat on placing blame but it is a waste of energy. It will take Congressional Leaders that have a set of brass ones to tackle this issue and I commend Bunning for taking a stand...but he lost because no one in Congress or the media had the guts to support him.

I guess government workers view the economy different than those who work in privaste industry.

It's stupid beyond belief to grandstand over spending for a STOPGAP measure. If Bunning wants to debate how to pay for things, debate it when you're debating the actual bill to fund the program - not the temporary measure that's only there to continue funding to give time for exactly this sort of debate.

We all know that nothing will get done until it's too late and we stare at a full blown financial crisis straight ahead. The solution to our public debt, our debt, will please no one as it will involve less spending on everybody's pet project (education, the military, infrastructure, etc.) and tax increases. Numbers just don't add up otherwise. BTW, the country was doing just fine 10 years ago when taxes were higher, and we had a surplus.

Thank you for a sensible comment. I too, like to read this site without the political slant. But, as we all know, that just isn't the case. When our national parks become fodder for political interests....wait a minute...I guess it's always been like that. How many of "our" parks were "bought" from our indigenous peoples, is still very much an issue with many people.

It did't take long for someone to blame Bush did it.

Many have already expressed their dismay at Kurt's opinionated reporting. I guess Kurt found it important to quote an opinion by someone at the Transportation Dept. " .... because he doesn't want to help middle-class families weather the economic storm, U.S. Department of Transportation officials said Monday...." but not to then present the other side to the story (just a single sentence would suffice) is extremely poor, biased journalism.

Kurt, the excuses which you gave were lame. You should just bite the bullet and admit that you made a mistake!

The actual text from the DOT is less abrasive:

"The action comes as a result of Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning’s decision to block key legislation that would have extended several critical priorities for middle class families."

If you are going to quote, then do so and don't interject your bias!!!!!!

For more proof of how divided folks are on this issue, here's some reaction to, and coverage of, the senator's action from around the country:

From kentuckypost.com:

"I’m angry because he is blocking this extension for over a million people," she stated. "It wasn’t our choice to lose our jobs. If he was in this position, what would he do?"

and

"Dear Senator Bunning," he intoned. "I haven’t worked a full 40-hour week in probably two years, but I fully support your decision to stand up to those in Congress who want to do nothing more than to spent the taxpayer money – even the money they do not have – on unemployment extension benefits."

and

One Stop Northern Kentucky Manager Connie Schnell said with the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate at 10.7 percent, 119,230 people are eligible for the federal benefits extension. Without the Senate’s approval, 14,206 of them will exhaust their benefits within two weeks – and 22,797 more people will be in the same position by the end of March.

...

Robert Steurer, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

Senator McConnell supports extending unemployment benefits and is disappointed they will apparently expire. He believes this should have been addressed weeks ago when there was a bipartisan agreement to do so. However, he hopes this issue is resolved quickly so that Kentuckians who are out of work will have their benefits restored soon.

...

Kentucky Gov.Steve Beshear:

“These unemployed Kentuckians come from hard-working families that have struggled for months to find new employment in the greatest economic recession in our lifetime,” wrote Gov. Beshear. “They are mothers and fathers who are trying to put food on the table for their children and seniors who are trying to pay the rent.”

...

Dr. Daniel Mongiardo, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Kentucky:

“Come Monday, unemployment for 1.2 million Americans and tens of thousands of Kentuckians across this Commonwealth who have lost their jobs during this recession and are struggling to keep their homes from foreclosure and put food on the table will now lose or have their unemployment and COBRA health benefits disrupted because of Jim Bunning’s cold-hearted disregard for his fellow Kentuckians.”

...

From The Hill newspaper:

Bunning, who is not running for re-election, had been blasted by Democrats and even criticized by some Republicans for his stand. The Kentucky Republican said he blocked the benefits because he wanted the bill funded by unspent stimulus money. GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), a moderate, joined Democrats in pressing Bunning to relent, and many Republicans — including McConnell, Bunning’s Kentucky colleague and the Republican leader, declined to defend him strongly although McConnell eventually voted to support him.

...

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Susan in Sarasota, Fla., says she may lose her house when, after Sen. Jim Bunning blocked a vote on extending unemployment benefits, her unemployment benefits run out.

“Imagine what I have to say daily to my six-year-old to explain why mommy and daddy are so sad all the time,” writes a woman in California, with a husband facing the prospect of no longer getting his unemployment check.

And a man in Chicago says that, without an extension of unemployment benefits, “I could go homeless soon.

...

From the Huffington Post's Arthur Delaney:

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits next month. When, on the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection Bunning replied: "Tough shit."

...

From a New York Times story:

“This is one senator,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a chief political strategist for Senate Republicans. “This does not represent the position of the caucus.”

...

From an Associated Press story:

"He's cruel," said Louisville resident George Boyd, who lost his job a year ago and could be affected by the impasse. "He's heartless. He doesn't think about the needs of other people."

and

"He's hurting the American people," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said when asked Tuesday if Bunning was hurting the Republican Party.