Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySeniors win big with Trump rebate rule  Klobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll 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 McConnellTrump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' McConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism 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.

ADVERTISEMENT


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 TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral 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 TillisOvernight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (N.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims 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.