WASHINGTON — The Senate will cancel most of its annual August recess, majority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, told senators on Tuesday, an election-year move that will force vulnerable Democratic senators to shuffle their campaign schedules.
The Senate will now recess for one week in August instead of four, McConnell said. He made the announcement in a closed-door lunch with Republican senators, according to several people familiar with his comments.
His decision has been widely anticipated in the Senate Republican Conference. Some GOP senators sent a letter to McConnell last month urging him to keep the chamber in session to vote on nominations and legislation, and Senate leaders have said the appetite to stay in town has grown in their ranks.
The additional workweeks in August mean that endangered Democratic senators on the ballot this year will face a dilemma: stay in Washington, attend to Senate business during time they could otherwise use to campaign back home, or remain in their states and face criticism that they are shirking their responsibilities.
The new schedule could also enable their Republican challengers — many of whom hail from the private sector or state government — to have the states to themselves during the late summer stretch.
The House still plans to be out of session for the month of August.
Democrats are defending 26 Senate seats this year, including two represented by independents in Vermont and Maine, and 10 in states President Trump won in 2016. Republicans have nine on the ballot.