Hitting the Road: Senators Eye Early Exit

(Updated 6/15 5:45 p.m.)

The best information about the Senate’s expected movements often doesn’t come from the leadership officers, but rather two floors down, where the phalanx of police officers, workmen and caterers in the bowels of the U.S. Capitol first catch wind of changes in lawmakers’ schedules.

That’s the case this week, as the early warning system in the Capitol’s basement sends signals that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is going to cut this summer’s short session even shorter and let lawmakers leave town before the official July 15 adjournment.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

Capitol workers say they’ve been told McConnell is discussing closing down the Senate by July 7, well before the Republican convention in Cleveland begins the week of July 18. If so, that means that senators have only about one dozen legislative days left to handle a few “must dos,” such as the Zika crisis and the fix for Puerto Rico, before they head out of town again.

But McConnell also is said to be looking at trimming back the fall’s official schedule to give vulnerable Republicans more time to campaign for reelection. Capitol sources say the majority leader is considering moves to revise plans for September, when the Senate is due to be in session all four weeks leading up to the end of the government’s fiscal year, when federal funding expires.

Rather be in session the full month, McConnell is now said looking to sharply pare that schedule back to allow more time to campaign.

McConnell’s office, however, dismissed the reports circulating in the building as nothing more than “sewing circle gossip.” In particular, a spokesman insisted there are no plans not to be in session the week of July 11.

“We are scheduled to be in that week,” McConnell’s spokesman said.