A day after the President chided Congress for not stepping up its working pace to hammer out a deficit deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on the Senate floor that the Fourth of July recess would be cancelled.
The Senate will come into session the afternoon of July 5 and all day Wednesday July 6.
The rest of the week is still to be determined, Democratic aides said.
Items that could be on the agenda starting Tuesday: the McCain-Kerry Libya resolution authorizing a limited one-year mission for U.S. forces, plus some jobs packages. Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad is also ready to unveil a long-awaited Democratic budget plan.
At a caucus meeting Wednesday night, Democrats discussed the possibility of cancelling recess. Several senators left the meeting visibly grumbling at the prospect of coming back to work to make what is largely a political statement. A group of mostly freshman Republican senators also held a press conference Wednesday to make clear they are jumping at the chance to cancel recess to get to work.
"It is really important that we do this," Reid said on the floor Thursday morning. "That moment is too important, the obstacle is too steep and the time too short to waste even a moment. I hope my Republican colleagues will put politics aside and help Democrats fulfill Congress's responsibility to the American people."
The battle over the deficit has now spilled out in a big way on Capitol Hill after several weeks of relatively quiet bipartisan negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden. Now both sides are digging in on their respective positions. Democrats are hammering the message that Republicans would rather protect the wealthy from more taxes while Republicans say Democrats are trying to hike takes and spend more.
In the latest round of maneuvering, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to invite President Obama to Capitol Hill today to meet with Senate Republicans.
"That way he can hear directly from Republicans why what he's proposing won't pass," McConnell said. "And we can start talking about what's actually possible. The President says he wants us to get working. I can't think of a better way than to have him come over and hear directly from our conference about the legislative realities in the Congress right now."
The President is expected to leave for Philadelphia later this afternoon.