McConnell cancels Senate break over coronavirus

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSara Gideon wins Democratic race to challenge Susan Collins Schumer pushes for elimination of SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus relief bill Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Ky.) announced Thursday that the Senate will cancel next week's recess to stay in town to craft coronavirus legislation.

The decision comes after growing calls from within the GOP caucus to cancel the upcoming break. Senators had been scheduled to leave town for a weeklong recess as soon as Thursday afternoon.

"Notwithstanding the scheduled state work period, the Senate will be in session next week. I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi," McConnell tweeted.

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The Senate is still leaving on Thursday for their normal three-day break. But instead of taking off until March 23, senators will now return on Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMJ Hegar wins Democratic battle to challenge John Cornyn Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel Wells Fargo told employees to delete TikTok from work phones MORE (D-N.Y.) knocked McConnell for letting senators go home at all.

“The Speaker is still negotiating with [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin. The House hasn’t even sent a bill over and Leader McConnell sends everybody home during a crisis. That is so wrong," he told reporters.

By returning next week, GOP senators are hoping they will be able to quickly pass the House bill — if Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS praises British ban on China's Huawei after pressure campaign Voter fraud charges filed against GOP Rep. Steve Watkins Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (D-Calif.) gets an eleventh hour deal with the White House — or propose potential changes to what Democrats send over.

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"Hopefully if the White House and the House are largely in agreement we can either work out the differences or not. And if they're completely in agreement, my guess is we'll deal with that bill pretty early next week," Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Advocacy groups pressure Senate to reconvene and boost election funding GOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, told reporters.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneUS praises British ban on China's Huawei after pressure campaign GOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, added that he thought the Senate returning to work next week could help calm a jittery stock market.

"I think that there will be ... some things that the administration will do on their own. But the fact that the Senate is going to be became next week and not go into recess I think, I would suspect some calm and reassurance," Thune said as he left the Capitol for the weekend.

The Senate's departure, and decision to return, comes as Pelosi has been negotiating language in the House coronavirus package with Mnuchin. Their fourth call of the day happened around 2:30 p.m., according to a spokesman.

"Third call of the day with the Secretary started at 11:26 a.m. Language discussions are continuing," a spokesman for Pelosi tweeted earlier Thursday.

Senate Republicans have largely sidelined themselves in the current negotiations, deferring to Mnuchin. If the White House signs off on a deal, it's expected that McConnell and most Senate Republicans would quickly pass it.

Even as Republicans are largely in a wait-and-see mode they were under pressure to stay in Washington, despite growing anxiety about preventing the spread of the coronavirus in the Capitol

Several members of GOP leadership had emerged from McConnell's office earlier in the afternoon and said they were considering nixing the break.

“I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears MORE (Wyo.), the No. 3 Senate Republican.

McConnell has faced mounting calls from within his conference to work out a deal amid widespread concerns over the virus and the markets tumbling.

"Due to the need to work on additional efforts to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate should cancel its recess and remain in session next week,” Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSara Gideon wins Democratic race to challenge Susan Collins The Hill's Campaign Report: Key races take shape in Alabama, Texas, Maine Illinois House Republican leader won't attend GOP convention in Florida: 'It's not going to be a safe environment' MORE (R-Maine) tweeted.

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisConservative group launches ad campaign for Rep. Roger Marshall in Kansas Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15K Democrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos MORE (R-N.C.) added that “Congress needs to cancel its recess and stay in session so we can work together in a bipartisan fashion to address the coronavirus pandemic.”

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GOP Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15K Democrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Ernst: Renaming Confederate bases is the 'right thing to do' despite 'heck' from GOP MORE (Iowa) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseUS praises British ban on China's Huawei after pressure campaign Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads MORE (Neb.) had also called for the Senate to stay in town.

“The Senate ought to keep working on the people’s business — both addressing the obvious deficiencies in our diagnostic testing pipeline, and debating the President’s call last night for economic legislation. The Senate has work to do, let’s get to it,” Sasse said in a statement.

Updated at 3:47 p.m.