Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is refusing to even bring up a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller for a floor vote.
“I don’t think he should fire Mueller and I don’t think he’s going to, so this is a piece of legislation that’s not necessary, in my judgment,” Sen. McConnell told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Tuesday. “I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, and we’ll not be having this on the floor of the senate.”
Here is Mitch McConnell saying he will not permit a Senate floor vote on the bipartisan bill now moving through Senate Judiciary Committee that would heighten protections against Trump forcing an arbitrary firing of Mueller. pic.twitter.com/SVOYPeVdxk
— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) April 17, 2018
McConnell is right — as Senate Majority Leader, he carries the ultimate responsibility for scheduling any floor action on legislation in the chamber. This means that if McConnell keeps his word, the bill is dead on arrival despite any potential action in the committee process. Last week, however, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) called on McConnell to allow a vote on the bill, saying he believed it would pass with broad bipartisan support.
“We should pass it out of committee. Leader McConnell should bring it to the floor of the Senate quickly, where I believe it would pass with a very large majority, and we should pressure our colleagues in the House to do the same,” Sen. Schumer said in a floor speech.
As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, the bill to safeguard Mueller from being fired is likely to come up for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 27. Even though Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is undecided on whether or not he will personally support it, he’s agreed to bring the bipartisan legislation — co-authored by Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) — up for a vote in his committee.
Even if the bill were to come up for a vote in the senate, it’s unlikely the Republican majority would bend enough for the bill to clear the 60-vote cloture threshold in order to get an up-or-down vote on the legislation, let alone enough votes to override a likely presidential veto.
President Trump has made multiple attempts to fire Mueller in the past, once just a month after he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and again in December of 2017. Rosenstein has stated that he is ready to be fired, if Trump chooses to do so.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.