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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE until next week. 

"We will hold this bill over today at the request of several members of the committee," Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections 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 FeinsteinBiden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund Stripping opportunity from DC's children Progressive groups ask for town hall with Feinstein to talk filibuster 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 McConnellHouse Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines Has Trump beaten the system? 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 TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix 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.