For Immediate Release

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Media Outreach Department 202-637-5018.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Senator Jim Bunning's Blocking of HR 4691

WASHINGTON - Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) is turning out to be a one-man wrecking
crew.  In his determined campaign to end jobless benefits for 1.2
million unemployed workers, he has also managed to cause the furlough
of 2,000 transportation workers and halt construction on 41 economic
recovery projects in 17 states.  Who says a single senator can't make a
difference? 

Last Friday Senator Bunning single-handily blocked a vote on a House
bill (H.R. 4691) that would have provided a short-term extension of the
federal highway bill.  Because authorization for the highway bill has
expired, highway trust fund money cannot be collected or spent, and
employees at the Transportation Department whose salaries are paid out
of the trust fund have to be furloughed.  

Yesterday Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 2,000
employees are being furloughed, primarily at the Federal Highway
Administration (FHA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,
some portions of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA), and some portions of the Research and Innovative Technology
Administration (RITA).  

The lapse of highway bill authorization means construction workers
will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be
furloughed.  Secretary LaHood also released a list of 41 federal lands
construction projects in 17 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and
the Virgin Islands that will be halted because federal inspectors are
being pulled off the job.  Halting these projects will make it harder
for local economies, businesses, and working families to recover from
the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

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There is simply no excuse for Senator Bunning holding these 2,000
furloughed workers hostage.  Or for his holding construction workers at
41 projects across the country hostage.  Or for his holding 1.2 million
jobless workers hostage.  

Senator Bunning embodies everything that is wrong with the U.S.
Senate today: the ability of individual small-minded, selfish
politicians to single-handedly prevent the majority from helping people
who need help and solving our country's problems.

 

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The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) works tirelessly to improve the lives of working people. We are the democratic, voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women.

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