In February, McConnell telegraphed his desire to avoid an election-year skirmish over funding the government in remarks on the Senate floor.
"We have negotiated the top line for the discretionary spending for this coming fiscal year," he said. "That process is normally done by the passage of a budget by the House and a budget by the Senate, with some reconciliation between the two bodies on the top line. But we already have that number. I wish to second what my friend the majority leader said. There is no good reason for this institution not to move forward with an appropriations process that avoids what we have done so frequently under both parties for years and years: either continuing resolutions or omnibus appropriations."
But at this point, punting on appropriations with a measure that extends funding past the election may be the GOP's best option. A spokesman says McConnell continues to support capping funding at the agreed-upon level -- $1.047 trillion -- but would prefer to come in under the cap and will work toward that goal. House Republicans, on the other hand, want to foreclose on the idea of funding the government at the agreed-upon level. And unless they back down or punt, they're going to run headlong into a White House determined to adhere to the debt-limit deal, and that wouldn't mind seeing the country blame the GOP for a government shutdown a month before the election.