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Grassley Will Allow Vote on Mueller Protection Bill Despite McConnell Vow to Kill It

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) speaks with reporters as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' lunch in the Capitol on Feb. 14, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Declaring that only he controls what happens in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller will get a vote within the panel even as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed to not bring such a bill to the floor.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act last week. In August, Booker and Graham introduced the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act while Tillis and Coons introduced the Special Counsel Integrity Act. The senators want to ensure that a court would have to review the firing of a special counsel to determine whether the required just cause existed.

Asked about pushback from the right wing for his efforts to protect the special counsel, Tillis told Politico that “courage is when you know you’re going to do something that’s going to anger your base.”

“The same people who would criticize me for filing this bill would be absolutely angry if I wasn’t pounding the table for this bill if we were dealing with Hillary Clinton,” he argued. “So spare me your righteous indignation.”

McConnell told Fox News that he doesn’t think the bill is necessary — “I don’t think he should fire Mueller and I don’t think he’s going to” — so he won’t bring it up for a 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.

Grassley said at a Thursday business meeting of the Judiciary Committee that “obviously the views of the majority leader are important to consider, but they do not govern what happens here in the Judiciary Committee.”

“If consideration on the floor was the standard for approving a bill in committee or not, we wouldn’t probably be moving any bills out of this committee,” he added.

The bill is expected to come up for consideration in Grassley’s committee next week. Grassley shared an amendment to the bill with Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that will be shared with the full committee ahead of the vote.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who’s not a member of the committee, told CNN he would “question that constitutionally of that type of law, but I’ll cross that bridge when it actually comes to center floor, if it does.”

“I don’t see what it would accomplish,” Johnson said of the bill. “The investigation is going to continue.”