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Senator Dianne Feinstein (Photo: Feinstein.senate.gov)

Pressure Grows For Senator Feinstein To Resign As GOP Senators Block Committee Replacement Motion

‘Feinstein is basically holding Senate Democrats hostage right now’

By Evan Symon, April 21, 2023 5:49 pm

Senate Republicans this week kept up opposition against a resolution that would temporarily replace Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Senate Judiciary Committee, putting her political future more into doubt and raising pressure for her to resign.

Last Thursday, Feinstein announced that she would be temporarily replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee due to her continued recovery from shingles while at home in San Francisco. While she has had health issues before, shingles have kept her away from the Senate for over a month, with Feinstein having stayed in San Francisco since March.

“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,”\ Senator Feinstein said in a statement last Thursday. “I intend to return as soon as possible. I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee, so I’ve asked Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve until I’m able to resume my committee work.”

However, that announcement only increased the number of calls for her to resign, with many claiming that she is unfit for office. Led by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), the resignation movement stayed strong this week as Democratic leaders pled for Feinstein to be replaced on the Judiciary Committee, as many nominees have been held up due to not enough members being available.

“It’s time for Senator Feinstein to resign,” Khanna tweeted on Thursday. “We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.”

Democrats blocked in Judiciary Committee

This week, GOP Senators, as well as some Democratic lawmakers, blocked the request for Feinstein to be replaced. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-CA) initially blocked the motion in the Committee, noting that “I had hoped Feinstein would be back soon, but adding a Democrat to her place while she is away would allow support for a handful of judges that I think should never be on the bench.”

He was further backed up on Tuesday by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-NC), who said that Republicans oppose the effort to replace her and that most judicial nominees already have bipartisan support. Not allowing Feinstein to be replaced would require a majority of support for candidates, and since she was the Senator who gave the Democrats a one vote advantage, all nominees would need to be truly liked by both parties, keeping ‘unqualified’ candidates out.

“So let’s be clear: Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporary absent colleague off a committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees,” said Senator McConnell on Tuesday.

For the rest of the week, the Senate Judiciary Committee has on edge, as has the entire Senate due to Feinstein literally being the Senator  who gives the Democrats a majority on many votes. With her not resigning and continuing to sit out, Democrats would be forced to rework how they vote on many things in the Senate, including how they vote on Judicial nominees.

“Feinstein is basically holding Senate Democrats hostage right now,” Bay Area pollster Evelyn Archer told the Globe Friday. “Without her, there is only so long they can stall for a replacement until they eventually have to go on without her or a replacement. These need to be resolved soon. Who knows how much longer she’ll be out – the fact that she wants a replacement should clue us in that it will take some time to come. And we cannot wait until she goes out naturally in early 2025 when she is replaced on the Senate through election.”

“She is losing a ton of respect in Washington right now. Is there some unfairness in the pressure for her to resign? Yes, some. But also remember that her health problems are literally holding back the Senate right now. But everyone also knows just how important her seat is. Replace her, and then Governor Newsom needs to pick a replacement, and one of the top 3 people running for Feinstein’s seat, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), is at the top of the list. Her resigning would solve the Senate problem, but it would also create a big crisis on her replacement, one of whom could tip the balance in the Senate race next year. There’s no easy solution here, or at least one where the GOP doesn’t come out in a better situation than the Democrats.”

The issue of Feinstein’s resignation is expected to continue next week, with the Senator giving no indication as of Friday afternoon if she will resign or not.

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