Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) absence has been particularly felt this week with the Senate scheduled to come back from its recess on April 17 and still no word on when the 89-year-old member will return. It was announced last March that Feinstein was taking a leave of absence due to a shingles diagnosis, and that she hoped to be back by the end of the month, though March came and went. Now, some of her fellow Democrats have joined those calling on her to resign, as Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) did, followed by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), who tweeted out his agreement not long after.
It’s time for @SenFeinstein to resign. 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.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) April 12, 2023
I agree with @RoKhanna. 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. https://t.co/lvaHhLJYsi
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) April 12, 2023
A particular headache for Democrats, as acknowledged by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who replaced Feinstein as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the effect her absence has on confirming judicial nominees.
In addition to there being a closely divided Senate of 51-49, President Joe Biden has had a habit of nominating judges and cabinet members who have partisan support and have worried even some Democrats. Nominations are also made based on characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, and sex in the name of “equity.”
Khanna’s campaign account retweeted The San Francisco Standard’s Josh Koehn whose reporting included a statement from the congressman panicking about last Friday’s decision from U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. The judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated federal standards when it approved mifepristone to be used as an abortion method in 2000 and the DOJ is asking the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for a pause.
“The ruling by an extremist judge in Texas has made it clear that Democrats must act with speed and urgency to confirm judicial nominees who will protect the right to an abortion,” Khanna said in the statement. “Senator Feinstein is unable to fulfill her duties and for the good of the people, she should resign.”
Rep. Ro Khanna’s office sent me a statement specifically citing the Texas abortion ruling as a key reason why Sen. Dianne Feinstein should resign.
If she does bow out, Gov. Gavin Newsom would be tasked with making an appointment.
Read more 👇https://t.co/zrm9EM2ILd
— Josh Koehn (@Josh_Koehn) April 12, 2023
Sen. Feinstein seems to have taken note of these calls and is responding, at least when it comes to her role on the committee. Also on Wednesday night, her office released a statement indicating that complications were further delaying her return and that she “will continue to work from home in San Francisco.” Her statement closed by mentioning that she is asking Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to ask the Senate to find a replacement for the committee.
“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,” the statement read with added emphasis.
INBOX: Feinstein Statement on Returning to Washington pic.twitter.com/2TTT14DOd2
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) April 13, 2023
Should Feinstein indeed resign, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) would appoint her replacement. Newsom has been talking about replacing Feinstein for years, promising to appoint a black woman.
Feinstein announced last December that she intended to finish her term, and then in February that she would not be running for reelection, though she initially seemed confused about her office releasing the statement. Even before that announcement, though, candidates lined up to replace her, including Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), the latter who has former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) endorsement. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is also a recently announced candidate, and fits Newsom’s criteria of being a black woman.
As has been the case for the past several days, “Feinstein” has been trending on Twitter.
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