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Bunning: Missed Health Vote for ‘Family Commitments’

WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky was the only senator to miss the Senate's historic Christmas Eve vote on health care reform legislation.

"The senator had family commitments," Bunning spokesman Mike Reynard said in an e-mail.

The 60-39 party-line vote to pass the landmark bill was one of 21 in December - nearly half of all Senate floor votes for the month - that the retiring senator has skipped.

Bunning missed votes on a number of amendments and procedural moves related to the health care bill, which he opposed. He also missed a vote on passage of the fiscal 2010 defense spending bill, which included a number of local projects he had sponsored.

Bunning, who is 78, announced in July he won't seek a third term in 2010 after months of insisting the opposite.

His absence from the health care vote, considered one of the most important Senate votes in decades, caps a year of unusual incidents involving the senator.

In January, he didn't show up for several votes even while saying he planned to run for re-election. Bunning said he missed those votes because he was fulfilling "a family commitment six months ago to do certain things, and I'm doing them."

"I have another life besides the Senate," Bunning said, declining to provide details.

He subsequently went public with a feud he was having with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Bunning claimed McConnell was pressuring him to step aside.

Bunning also gave a speech in which he predicted the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has battled cancer. The senator later apologized. He also swore at a reporter who asked him about polling numbers, apologizing for that as well.

He also told a group of lobbyists he was contemplating quitting the Senate so Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear could appoint a replacement, sources told The Courier-Journal. Bunning denied having said that.

1 Responses »

  1. Or maybe he just decided he wouldn't participate in this.
    This bill is a disgrace and a sham.
    It purports to "extend coverage" to X million people. There is nothing stopping those people from buying insurance now. They choose not to. What this abomination does is mandate that these people spend Y percent of their pretax income on for profit health insurance. If that is not enough to cover the premiums demanded by the insurers (N.B. there are no controls on premiums) some people will get government subsidies to pay these tributes. I am appalled at the back room deals again not bipartisan and not on CSPAN another broken promise.
    .I am disgusted at the snarkiness of Franken, Whitehouse and Harkin, the "we have the power, so why are you even bothering tone." I am appalled that the most important thing has become meeting Obama's deadlines and the fact that any one who opposes him on anything is cast as an enemy.
    However, I reject any claim that this is socialism. What horrifies me is that in tone and substance, government coercion, demonization of "enemies," blind allegiance to an unaccountable leader, and many other ways it resembles another much more dangerous ism.
    Maybe this year we all need to observe 1/20 again. Maybe we need to march on Washington to demand that from Obama on down our leaders remember that this is United States of America, not a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs or Wal-mart.