[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/02/art.boehner0302.gi.jpg caption="Bunning 'has a right as a senator to express his will and he has,' House Minority Leader Boehner said Tuesday."]
Washington (CNN) - The top Republican in the House is defending Kentucky GOP Senator Jim Bunning's decision to hold up legislation that includes an extension of jobless benefits until an agreement can be reached on how to pay for the $10 billion bill.
"I think Senator Bunning has - he's got a legitimate argument that he's making," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "You know, the Democrats just passed this pay-go legislation and not – not even a week after the President signed it into law they want to exempt the first bill that comes across the Senate floor from the – from the regulations. And so it's - and he has a right as a senator to express his will and he has."
Bunning, who is retiring at the end of this year, said he doesn't oppose extending the jobless benefits program; he just doesn't want to add to the deficit. Democrats argue that, because the legislation is an emergency measure, the bill should not be subject to new rules requiring that legislation not expand the deficit.
Boehner initially dodged a question on Bunning, telling reporters that he has an understanding with his counterpart in the upper chamber, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
"I have an agreement with Senator McConnell. I don't deal with the Senate, and he doesn't deal with the House," he said.
Boehner did not answer questions about why House Republicans agreed unanimously last Thursday to the 30-day extension of the jobless benefits.