McConnell on Tuesday called for $70 billion for Iraq with no strings attached, an across the board cut of around 1 percent for domestic appropriations bills and the promise that lawmakers can keep all their earmarks.
"That is a way to end this session in a fiscally responsible way," McConnell said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who usually rejects outright such off the cuff offers, left the door open for some sort of compromise with Republicans.
"At this stage I'm not there yet," Reid said. "We are waiting to see what the House sends us."
Senate Republican and Democratic aides say Democrats may have one more counter offer in them _ a $5 billion increase in domestic spending, which amounts to less than 1 percent of total discretionary spending. That's a long way from the $22 billion increase originally proposed by Democrats.
One idea that seemed to be a nonstarter with senators was House Appropriations Chairman David Obey's idea of stripping all earmarks from the spending bills.
"We're not going to let them do a punitive thing like that," said Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.). "Earmarks are justified and legitimate ... but they do need to pass the smell test. I wouldn't give up my earmarks."