Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley announces reelection bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Iowa) said on Thursday that a bill to protect 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 from getting fired should get a vote on the Senate floor.
“It’s legitimate that the bill be brought up,” he said. “It would satisfy me if it became law because I voted for it.”
The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act passed out of the Judiciary Committee in April with a 14-7 vote.
Grassley, who voted for the legislation when it passed out of the Judiciary Committee, made his comments after he had to hold over judicial nominees at a committee business meeting because of opposition from Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (R-Ariz.).
Flake says he will block judicial nominees from coming to the floor until the special counsel protection bill gets a vote on the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWe don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble House passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday blocked an effort by Flake and Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Senate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' MORE (D-Del.) to call up the legislation for a floor vote.
Grassley said on Thursday that while he’s not at the “forefront” with Flake in pressuring McConnell, he thinks the legislation should pass.
“I’m not going to be in forefront with Flake advocating that the leader do so and so, but I wouldn’t do anything to stop it,” he said. “Usually, a chairman of a committee if he doesn’t want a bill brought up can … object to unanimous consent.”
Flake on Thursday said the legislation would pass if it came to the floor.
“There are some who are not on the committee who will vote for this,” he said of Senate GOP colleagues. “It will pass on the floor.”
He said McConnell doesn’t want to bring it to the floor because he’s worried about angering President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE.
The legislation would codify existing Department of Justice regulations requiring that the special counsel can only be fired for good cause by a Senate-confirmed Justice Department official.
It would also create a 10-day window for a judge to decide whether any termination of a special counsel is for good cause and stop the firing if it fails to meet the cause requirement.
Trump on Thursday renewed his criticism of Mueller’s investigation into his administration.
“Universities will someday study what highly conflicted (and NOT Senate approved) Bob Mueller and his gang of Democrat thugs have done to destroy people,” the president tweeted.
Flake on Thursday reiterated his position that he will block judicial nominees, even those he supports, in the Judiciary Committee until the special counsel protection bill comes up for a vote.
The committee is narrowly divided with 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. As a result, Flake can stop nominees from being reported with favorable recommendations.
Grassley said he won’t be able to move nominees to the floor as a result, though he noted there are already 30 nominees that have already been passed through committee and are waiting for floor action.
He said that some judges may be able to move with Democratic votes but conceded that he “wouldn’t get them all out.”
Grassley discounted the possibility of McConnell moving nominees directly to the floor without favorable committee votes.
“That’s never been done as far as I know,” he said. “I don’t think that would be done.”
Updated at 12:37 p.m.