Expert: Dianne Feinstein’s Request for Temporary Replacement on Committee ‘Unprecedented’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., walks through a Senate corridor after telling her Democratic colleagues that she will not seek reelection in 2024, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Michael Thorning, the Structural Democracy Director for the Bipartisan Policy Center, said that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) request to be temporarily replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee is unprecedented and would face significant resistance from Republicans.

Feinstein — who has been recovering from shingles for more than a month and is also 89 years old, has faced increasing calls from prominent Democrats such as Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) to resign.

“It is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties,” Khanna said.

“Senator Feinstein is a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable. 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,” Phillips said.

Feinstein’s absence has held up the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees. Judicial nominees have to pass through the Judiciary Committee and the committee is currently split between Republicans and Democrats with Feinstein’s indefinite absence.

Feinstein asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to temporarily replace her on the committee as she recovers and presumably returns to her committee assignments. However, it will not be easy to replace the absent senator on the committee. Doing so would require ten Senate Republicans to agree to end Senate floor debate and have a full vote on the Senate floor.

Michael Thorning, the director for Structural Democracy at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), explained in a written statement:

Sen. Schumer cannot unilaterally remove or appoint any senator to a committee. That requires a resolution of the Senate and Democrats would need either unanimous consent or at least 10 Republicans to agree to end debate before a vote of the full Senate. While the Senate has traditionally handled these matters by unanimous consent, Sen. Feinstein’s request for a temporary replacement is likely unprecedented.

He added, “Combined with the increasingly partisan politics of federal judicial appointments, getting the necessary Republican support for [it] may not be a simple ask.”

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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