Senate Republicans are measuring support for legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE and could bring the bill up for a vote, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said Tuesday.
Cornyn, in separate interviews with reporters and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, said Republicans could give the legislation a vote as they try to defuse a fight with Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (R-Ariz.) that is holding up dozens of judicial nominees.
"We're whipping that to see where people are. I think the leader needs that information to decide how to manage all the competing demands on our time," Cornyn said when asked about discussions within the Republican caucus about the legislation.
Flake has pledged to vote against all of President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE's judicial nominees until he gets a vote on the legislation. With Republicans holding an 11-10 majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Flake's tactics effectively block them from moving nominees to the full Senate unless they can get help from Democrats.
Cornyn said Republicans were willing to hold a vote on the legislation "if that's what it's going to take" to move nominees. But, asked if it was a realistic possibility, he said leadership was still measuring support to get "an idea of what the outcome would be."
It would give a special counsel an "expedited review" of their firing. If a court determines that it wasn't for "good cause," the special counsel would be reinstated.
Republican discussions about giving the legislation a vote come as Democrats call for it to be added to a must-pass spending bill if Republicans don't bring the bill up on its own.
GOP leaders have dismissed adding it to the funding bill, arguing it would spark a veto threat from Trump.
But Democrats maintain that Trump's decision to fire Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE as attorney general and replace him with Matthew Whitaker, Sessions's chief of staff, is the latest sign that the president wants to interfere in the Mueller investigation.
“If the Majority Leader refuses to give it the vote it deserves, Democrats will push to include it on the must-pass spending bill that we must approve,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerObama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda Schumer gets shoutout, standing ovation from crowd at Tony Awards MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday.
McConnell appeared cool to giving the legislation a vote and said he would "probably" block Flake and Coons's second request to bring the bill to the floor.
"This is a solution in search of a problem. ...We have a lot of things to do to try to finish up this year without taking votes on things that are completely irrelevant to outcomes," McConnell said.
Updated: 3:13 p.m.