Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland Senators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits MORE (R-Iowa) said his committee will take up legislation to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE despite opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Hillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans On The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal MORE (R-Ky.).

"They got together, so I feel an obligation to keep my word and move forward," Grassley said when asked if he would still give the special counsel legislation a vote.

Grassley had previously urged supporters of two competing special counsel bills to strike an agreement and merge their proposals.

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That legislation is on the agenda for a committee business meeting on Thursday, but an actual vote is expected to be delayed until next week.

McConnell said he has no intention of bringing the bill up for a floor vote during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. 

"I'm the one who decides what we take to the floor, that's my responsibility as the majority leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate," he told Fox News.

McConnell has argued for months that he doesn't believe legislation protecting the special counsel is necessary. He has said he doesn't believe President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE will fire Mueller, despite Trump's public comments and reported attempts to do just that.

Grassley sidestepped a question about whether he would urge McConnell to bring up the bill, noting it still needs to get out of committee. He said McConnell has a "terrible job."

"But I can't worry about what's going on on the floor. I've just got to do what I can do," he said.

With at least GOP Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKey GOP senator says ‘no question’ Russia is meddling in U.S. affairs GOP Senator: 'Very inappropriate' for Trump to discuss allowing Russia to question US citizens Anti-Trump protesters hold candlelight vigil by White House MORE (N.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamQuestions mount over Trump-Putin discussions The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia Overnight Defense: Trump inviting Putin to DC | Senate to vote Monday on VA pick | Graham open to US-Russia military coordination in Syria MORE (S.C.) joining Democrats in supporting the bill, it's expected to have the votes to clear the Judiciary Committee next week.

But it faces an uphill climb to getting 60 votes in the Senate, much less passing the more conservative House. 

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation last week that would codify that only a senior Justice Department official can fire a special counsel and give Mueller or any other special counsel an "expedited review" of any firing. 

If a court determines a special counsel wasn't fired for "good cause," the person would be reinstated.