Senate panel moves to take up bill protecting Mueller

The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with legislation to limit President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE's ability to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE

Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Top GOP senator: Drug pricing action unlikely before end of year Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock 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 FeinsteinGOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping GOP senator wants Violence Against Women Act passage by year end 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 CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Democrats raise privacy concerns over Amazon home security system Senators press Facebook over user location tracking policies MORE (D-Del.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-N.J.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Progressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry MORE (R-N.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Report on alleged surveillance abuse in 2016 to be released Dec. 9 McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal 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.