A group of more than 60 liberal and progressive groups sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday, demanding that she resign with her absence causing delays in judicial appointments and witness subpoenaing for major cases.
Since early March, Senator Feinstein has not attended Senate meetings and votes, as she has been recovering from shingles at home in San Francisco. While some time off for medical reasons is permitted, Feinstein’s absence has led to a growing logjam of Judiciary Committee hearings and votes. As Democrats don’t want to resume Committee votes until they have a majority again, which the Committee did at the beginning of the year by a sole vote, there has been no action as federal judge nomination and other matters continue to pile up in the docket.
In an attempt to alleviate the situation, as well as the growing calls for her resignation, led by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), Feinstein stepped down temporarily from the Judiciary Committee last week. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attempted to get a replacement until she came back, nominating Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), but that proposal was shut down by Senate Republicans, who want an even-party Committee to force Democrats to only promote bipartisan-supported judicial nominees.
With the GOP not giving any leeway, and Feinstein not resigning, Democrats have continued calls for Feinstein to resign and have someone chosen by Governor Newsom to replace her.
On Friday, dozens of liberal and progressive groups joined in the growing calls to resign, including Indivisible groups from areas across California, Berkeley Now, Contra Costa MoveOn, Generation Blue, Feminists in Action, Sierra Forward, Solidarity, and Women’s March:
“On behalf of 111,184 of your constituents from 63 local Indivisible chapters and grassroots California groups, we thank you for your exemplary service,” the groups said. “In your more than 30 years of trailblazing work as our state’s longest-serving Senator, you have set a high standard, repeatedly made history, and become a Senate icon.”
“But now, complications from your illness threaten this storied legacy. Your absences hobble the elected Democratic Senate majority from doing the work of the people of California and our nation. Therefore, at this key moment and with great respect and affection, we ask that you resign from the Senate to focus on your health. Please allow Governor Newsom to appoint an interim Senator who can provide robust and constant representation for California through the election of 2024.”
“So much is at stake, especially for women and marginalized groups whose rights are under attack. Scores of Biden-nominated judges await confirmation. We must tap every possible vote in the Senate to contain the larger Republican threat to freedom and liberty in our country. Sadly, your Republican colleagues have rejected traditional approval processes, instead seeking to gain unfair leverage from your ill health. This impasse is not in the best interest of California or the nation.”
“Time is short. For three decades, 39 million Californians counted on you to be our hardworking voice in Washington, day in and day out. We still need a daily voice, now more than ever. We respectfully ask you to give one more gift of service to our great state by fully stepping back to allow a new appointee to carry forth and extend your legacy.”
Call for resignation grow in DC, California
Experts noted on Friday that the letter itself may not convince Feinstein, especially with Newsom’s caretaker pick likely going to heavily influence the 2024 Senate race, but continued calls for her resign could force her hand in the coming weeks.
“Right now it’s about pressure,” Bay Area pollster Evelyn Archer told the Globe Friday. “She’s been losing respect in Washington over this for weeks now, and now her home state is starting to turn on her. But it’s odd now because Republicans who have wanted her gone for years now want her to stay so that they can eliminate some of the more liberal federal judicial picks while Democrats, who have defended her in the past, now want her out to get those people passed.”
“Not helping matters is the 2024 election next year, and if she resigns, Newsom could give the golden ticket of incumbency to them. And right now, it is all on Feinstein. She’s either going to be triumphantly back in Washington soon, she’ll resign, or she’ll just continue to wait it out and possibly undermine President Biden’s agenda. Democrats lose with every option, but it’s by how much they lose that they’re battling over. The GOP has plans for every contingency here and are basically just putting their feet on the table and watching it all unfold.”
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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