Because the US Senate is basically a crazy, semi-undemocratic body full of arcane procedural rules and bitter partisanship, one cranky old senator from Kentucky has blocked unemployment benefits for more than 200,000 Floridians.
The Democrat-controlled congress is currently hammering out a new jobs bill, but in the meantime tried to pass a stop-gap bill that would extend unemployment benefits until a final bill can be agreed upon. Republican Senator Jim Bunning has single-handedly placed a hold on the legislation, and already those whose benefits ran out last week have been affected.
Bunning has remained defiant, even flipping off a reporter and yelling at others during a video taped confrontation.
Bunning wants the $10 billion allocated in the bill to be offset by reductions elsewhere in the budget.
The senate will try to override Bunning's objection today, but if nothing is done WDBO reports that as many as 20,000 Floridians a week could lose benefits. The total number could reach 400,000 by June.
Moderate Republicans, like Maine's Susan Collins, have pleaded with Bunning, The Sun-Sentinel's Juice blog thinks that Bunning has been purposely set up as the scape-goat by his party. The 78 year-old Senator isn't running for re-election.
"The only real solution: an improved economy that generates jobs and eases the pressure on everyone," writes The Juice.
Of course the only real solution to stop circus-like procedural shenanigans, regardless of the policies, in the Senate is a constitutional amendment or two.