In Congress

Dianne Feinstein Asks To Step Down From Key Senate Committee

Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to step down from the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday evening after being absent since February due to a shingles infection, according to The New York Times.

Senate Democrats have pushed back against the senator after her absence has caused a lag in the judicial confirmation process, and she has received calls for resignation from several Democratic congressmembers, according to the NYT. Feinstein has refused to resign, but made a compromise by asking to be temporarily taken off of the Judiciary Committee while she recovers from the illness.

“I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee,” Feinstein said in a statement per the NYT. “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.”

Schumer will present the question to the Senate next week to replace Feinstein on the committee, where the resolution will require unanimous consent or 60 votes to pass, the NYT reported. Democrats are eager to push this through, as Feinstein has missed nearly 60 Senate votes during her time away.

“It’s time for [Sen. Feinstein] to resign,” Democratic California Rep. Ro Khanna tweeted Wednesday. “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.”

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips joined with Khanna’s call for resignation, and said that while Feinstein’s impact on the country is “immeasurable,” for the senator to remain in office is a “dereliction of duty.”

Calls for resignation came as Feinstein made it clear she would not be able to return following the current recess, and said she expected to recover by the end of March, she told the NYT. Feinstein acknowledged that her illness has been prolonged, and that she would be able to return to the Senate as soon as her doctors allow.

Feinstein, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and is 89 years old, announced in February that she would not seek another term. In January, California Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter both announced they are vying to take the now open seat in 2024.

“I’m anxious, because I can’t really have a markup of new judge nominees until she’s there,” chairman of the committee, Democratic Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin, previously told Politico.

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