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The action could have another effect: giving Democratic senators up for re-election this year less time to campaign at home as they try to hold their seats.
"Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president's nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled," McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement.
Senators are expected to be able to spend the first week of the month in their states, then return to Washington. Aside from confirming Trump's choices for executive branch jobs and judgeships, the Senate GOP also aims to pass a bill funding the government before the current money expires at the end of September.
The action will allow Senate Republicans to move more quickly toward helping Trump reshape both the executive and judicial branches of the government. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday the administration applauds the action.
But it will also affect the major parties' fight for control of the Senate in November, as Republicans try to hold on to or expand their 51 to 49 seat majority. Twenty-six Democrats and independents who caucus with them face re-election this year, including 10 in states Trump won in 2016. That compares to only nine incumbent Republicans running this year, with only a handful facing credible threats of getting unseated.
Three fewer weeks at home will cut down on the time those Democrats have to campaign and raise funds.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., faces a challenging re-election campaign this year against well-funded Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He called the move to cancel the recess "a calculation of raw politics on the part of Mitch McConnell," according to NBC News. Scott responded in a statement, saying Florida residents "don't get to take the month of August off, and neither should career politicians."
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn indicated that cutting back the recess could hurt Democrats, according to NBC News.
"I think now they're desperate because now they realize they're more exposed politically because they've got so many people up running for re-election in red states," the Texas Republican told reporters, according to NBC.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein attributed McConnell's decision partly to the quality of GOP Senate candidates, saying he is "right to be terrified of Senate Democrats on the campaign trail." Bergstein added that "whenever the GOP Congress is in session they find new ways to alienate and disgust voters" and said that Democrats would hold Republicans accountable if they try again to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.
Still, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that Democrats "welcome" the additional time in Washington. The New York Democrat said his party could push for votes to address rising health-care costs.