McConnell sure of crisis, but not rescue

LOUISVILLE — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said U.S. automakers are facing a financial crisis but steered clear Friday of endorsing a congressional plan to rescue the industry.

"We would all like to save the American domestic automobile industry; the question is how best to do that," McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters after speaking at the annual Kentucky Farm Bureau convention.

He said options include an infusion of federal aid or a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for a failing automaker, enabling it to keep operating while overhauling its finances. Another option is to rewrite an existing $25 billion program intended to help the industry make more fuel-efficient vehicles.

As the Senate's top Republican, McCon nell's voice will be important in any congressional negotiations.

"I haven't decided yet which course I think is best," he said. "One thing is not in dispute: No one wants the American automobile manufacturers to go down."

He declined to give a timetable for congressional action but said there's no doubt the U.S. auto industry's decline is "clearly a crisis."