Facing Democrat Calls to Resign, Absent Feinstein Asks Schumer to ‘Temporarily’ Replace Her on Key Committee

US Senator Dianne Feinstein speaks as US Attorney General William Barr prepares to testify
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) indefinite absence in Washington has sparked calls from her own party members for her resignation and a request from the senator for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to “temporarily” fill her seat on a key panel that decides judicial nominees.

Feinstein, 89, has been home recovering from shingles for more than a month, which has caused her to miss dozens of floor votes and hold up Democrats’ approval of President Joe Biden’s pending judicial nominees.

The nominees must pass through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is currently split dead evenly between Republicans and Democrats while Feinstein is away.

On Wednesday, fellow Californian Rep. Ro Khanna was the first congressional Democrat to call for Feinstein to step down, saying in a statement, “It is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties.”

Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, another Democrat, soon chimed in that he agreed with Khanna.

“Senator Feinstein is a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable,” Phillips wrote. “But I believe it’s now a dereliction of duty to remain in the Senate and a dereliction of duty for those who agree to remain quiet.”

The congressmen’s comments came after pressure had been building on Feinstein over the last few days, including from Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who told CNN on Monday that he could not consider judicial nominees “in these circumstances because a tie vote is a losing vote in committee.”

Pod Save America host Jon Lovett, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, then called for Feinstein to leave her position during an episode of his show on Tuesday.

“Because she is not in the Judiciary Committee, Durbin has said that it has made it basically impossible to move a lot of these lower court nominees to the Senate for a vote,” Lovett said, observing that Feinstein was “now preventing us from being able to confirm judges.”

He condemned those around her for “being part of this farce of having a lack of a senator in such an important job,” calling it “really wrong” and saying “she should resign and more people should be calling on her to resign.”

Feinstein responded in a statement Wednesday night that she had been experiencing complications from her illness but that she still planned to return to her job “as soon as possible” once her doctors gave her the okay to travel.

She said that in the meantime, she had asked Schumer to “temporarily” substitute her on the committee with another Democrat.

Read Feinstein’s full statement below:

When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period. Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis.

I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel. In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco.

I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee, so I’ve asked Leader Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve until I’m able to resume my committee work.

A spokesperson for Schumer said the Democrat leader agreed to Feinstein’s request, saying, according to Punchbowl, “Per Sen. Feinstein’s wishes, Majority Leader Schumer will ask the Senate next week to allow another Democratic Senator to temporarily serve on the Judiciary Committee.” 

Schumer will need Republican support, likely through either a unanimous consent vote or a typical 60-vote approval, but it is unclear if the GOP will provide it while judicial nominees are on the line.

Write to Ashley Oliver at aoliver@breitbart.com. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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