By Mark Memmott

"Two thousand federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay on Monday, and the Obama administration said they have a Kentucky senator to blame for it," the Associated Press writes.

The story behind the story, as All Things Considered reported on Friday, is that Republican Sen. Jim Bunning has blocked passage of legislation that would have extended federal highway and transit programs, which expired Sunday.

The AP adds that:

The extension of transportation programs was part of a larger package of government programs that also expired Sunday, including unemployment benefits for about 400,000 Americans. Bunning objected to the $10 billion measure, saying it would add to the budget deficit. He didn't respond to a request Monday for comment.

This impasse may not last too long, though. New information inserted here at 1:50 p.m. ET: NPR's Beth Donovan tells us that the Senate is taking up a package of business-related tax breaks later this afternoon. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., plans to add language restoring the highway, transportation and unemployment funds. If Bunning objects, the Senate might not vote until Wednesday. Then the House would take up the package.

Original post resumes here:

NPR's Ron Elving writes that Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher, has tossed a political knuckeball at his Senate colleagues.

Note at 1:50 p.m. ET: Beth also tells us that the AP was incorrect when it reported that the package could be on the president's desk by the end of Tuesday or early Wednesday.

categories: Economy, Government, Obama Administration

11:19 - March 1, 2010