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Senate panel moves to take up bill protecting Mueller

The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with legislation to limit President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE's ability to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE

Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyColorado governor, spouse test positive for COVID-19 McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Iowa) wants to add the bill to the panel's business meeting agenda scheduled for Thursday, a spokesman for the senator confirmed to The Hill.

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"In order to do that, the Minority would need to assent. Committee rules require such assent within 72 hours of a markup. Grassley has sought that assent, and is waiting to hear back," said spokesman George Hartmann.

A spokesman for Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, confirmed that Grassley and his staff have reached out about adding the legislation to Thursday's agenda. 

Asked if Feinstein had signed off, the spokesman added that it was under review. He later clarified that they have not yet received a copy of the bill text. 

Even if the bill is taken up by the committee, it could still face delays.

Under committee rules, any one member can delay a vote on legislation for a week. Multiple senators on the panel are opposed to the bill, making it likely it will be held back. 

The legislation, from Sens. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Biden rolls out national security team Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (D-Del.), Cory BookerCory BookerDangerously fast slaughter speeds are putting animals, people at greater risk during COVID-19 crisis Senate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers' staffs MORE (D-N.J.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge North Carolina — still purple but up for grabs Team Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters MORE (R-N.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamIs Trump headed to another campaign or to a courtroom? Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE (R-S.C.), would let Mueller, or any other special counsel, receive an "expedited judicial review" within 10 days of being fired to determine if it was for a "good cause." If it wasn't, the special counsel would be reinstated. 

The measure would also codify existing regulations that only a senior Justice Department official can fire a special counsel and that they must provide the reason in writing.

Tillis told The Hill that he wasn't certain the bill would be able to get a vote on Thursday but said it would "certainly" happen "here in the next week."

The committee action would come after two previous special counsel bills languished for months without a vote.

If the bill passes out of committee it would also put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs Obama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary Memo to Biden: Go big — use the moment to not only rebuild but to rebuild differently MORE (R-Ky.) to let the legislation come up for a vote. 

McConnell on Tuesday said he saw no need for a vote on legislation protecting Mueller because he doesn't believe Trump will fire him.