Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin 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 McConnellOvernight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run Poll: 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump 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 TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall 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 TillisThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters MORE (N.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamActing Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump FBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it 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.