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McConnell cancels Senate break over coronavirus

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Rove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trial Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report 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 SchumerCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs 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 PelosiCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Retired Army general: 'We can't have demonstrators showing up at a state Capitol with damn long guns' Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump 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 BluntUS Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots Senate to be briefed on inauguration security after Capitol attack This week: Democrats barrel toward Trump impeachment after Capitol attack MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, told reporters.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures 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 BarrassoMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Georgia keeps Senate agenda in limbo Spending bill aims to reduce emissions, spur energy development 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 CollinsImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Maine) tweeted.

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDemocrats see Georgia as model for success across South McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 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 ErnstMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Military survivors of child sex abuse deserve more NASA selects the next Artemis moonwalkers while SpaceX flies a Starship MORE (Iowa) and Ben SasseBen SasseSasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Democratic super PAC targets Hawley, Cruz in new ad blitz Hotel cancels Hawley fundraiser after Capitol riot: 'We are horrified' 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.