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Administration Blames Bunning's 'Political Games' for Furlough of 2,000 Workers

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October 20, 2009: Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. gestures on Capitol Hill during a hearing on the housing market. (AP Photo)

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood blasted Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning Monday for blocking legislation to extend several federal programs, a move that triggered the furlough of 2,000 transportation workers Monday. 

The legislation would have extended federal highway and transit programs, as well as unemployment benefits for about 400,000 Americans. 

Bunning, a Republican, objected to the $10 billion measure, saying it would add to the budget deficit. 

But the Department of Transportation issued a lengthy statement Monday detailing the numerous programs that would be temporarily sidelined as a result. 

Workers will be furloughed, federal reimbursements to states for highway programs -- which total about $190 million a day -- will be halted, and construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors will not be working. 

"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," LaHood said. 

The disruption may not last long. 

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, told "Fox News Sunday" that the Senate will pass an unemployment benefits extension this week. But he praised Bunning, saying his decision to block the legislation was made to point out the hypocrisy in the Senate exempting the legislation from a just-passed bill requiring Congress to pay for legislation as it comes up, commonly referred to as PAYGO. 

"All Senator Bunning was saying is that it should be paid for," Kyl said. "It will pass, though, because it's a temporary extension." 

Furloughs will affect employees at the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration. 

Among the construction sites where work will be halted: the $36 million replacement of the Humpback Bridge on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia; $15 million in bridge construction and stream rehabilitation in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; and the $8 million resurfacing of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.