Senate panel punts Mueller protection bill to next week

Senate panel punts Mueller protection bill to next week
© Getty

The Senate Judiciary Committee is delaying legislation protecting 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 until next week. 

"We will hold this bill over today at the request of several members of the committee," Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again MORE (R-Iowa) said during a committee meeting on Thursday. 

The bill was expected to be punted. Under committee rules any one member can request that a bill be delayed for a week, and several senators on the panel have concerns about the legislation.

ADVERTISEMENT

The move sets up a committee vote next week.

That's weeks after Grassley initially tried to bring the bill up.

The Iowa senator tried to add it to the committee's agenda last week, which would have meant a vote as late as this Thursday.

Under committee rules, he would need Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks MORE (D-Calif.) to sign off if he wanted to add the bill to the agenda within 72 hours of a meeting.

But Democrats on the panel objected, noting they had yet to see an amendment from Grassley amid concerns that Republicans could try to weaken the special counsel bill.

Grassley said last week that his amendment would increase reporting to Congress, including any administration plans to fire Mueller or any other special counsel.

Though he has yet to say if he will vote for the bill, it's expected to have enough support to clear the committee.

But the bill is facing a roadblock to getting a vote on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.) told Fox News that he would not give the bill a floor vote.

"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 said.

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 TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE will fire Mueller, despite Trump's public comments and reported attempts to do so.

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.

Under the bill, if a court determined a special counsel wasn't fired for "good cause," the person would be reinstated.

--Updated at 12:04 p.m.