Grilled, McConnell Takes No Position On Bunning Benefit Blockade

March 2, 2010 9:52 a.m.

In an awkward exchange with reporters this afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell patently refused to take a position on the actions of his fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Jim Bunning (R), who has been filibustering a bill to extend unemployment insurance and other benefits that expired Sunday.

“We’re going to be able to work out the short-term extension in the very new future,” McConnell said at a press conference this afternoon. “As soon as we get it worked out we’ll let you know.”

Reporters pressed, “What’s your opinion” on Bunning’s move?McConnell responded: “At the risk of being redundant–which I frequently am–we’re working on this issue and hope to have it sorted out in a way that will be satisfactory to all concerned in the very near future.”

Pressed again to answer the question, McConnell was silent. So reporters turned to different tactics.

‘What about the people who aren’t getting their benefits, the 2000 people who have been furloughed?’

“As I indicated we’re working on this, and we believe we can reach a consent agreement that would allow some amendments and allow us to approve the short term measure and move ahead,” McConnell dodged.

Does Bunning distract from the Republican message on health care?

That didn’t work either: “I know what you’re asking me,” McConnell said, frustrated. “We’re in the process of working this out, and hopefully it will be resolved in the near future.”

The repartee lasted minutes, with McConnell ultimately refusing to take any further questions about Bunning. I’m not sure what you call that, but it’s a far cry from a denunciation.

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