Even as Republicans insist it will not back ideas to temporarily replace the California Democrat on the Judiciary Committee while she recovers from sickness, Senator Dianne Feinstein is receiving fresh calls from within her own party to retire.
Early in March, 89-year-old Feinstein was admitted to the hospital with shingles. As she recovers at her San Francisco home, she has missed numerous Senate votes in Washington, D.C.
Due to her absence from the Judiciary Committee, the Senate cannot confirm some of President Joe Biden’s judicial candidates, prompting calls for the senior Democrat to resign.
While Feinstein’s continuous absence is impeding the judicial confirmation process, U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna of California was one of the first Democratic members to publicly call for Feinstein to step down and declare that she can “no longer fulfill” her duties in the Senate. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota tweeted shortly after that it was a “dereliction of duty” for Feinstein to continue serving in the Senate.
As many as 12 federal judge nominees cannot progress because of Feinstein’s absence, and two more House Democrats are now pushing for Feinstein to resign.
Jamaal Bowman of New York responded in the affirmative when asked by CNN on Monday whether Feinstein should resign where he said that her large number of votes missed prevented them from moving forward with their judging candidates.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that it is “sadly something that I think it is appropriate to examine” if Feinstein resigns. Sen. Dianne Feinstein left the Senate chamber on Wednesday puzzled about her two-vote sequence.
“Did I vote for that?” a reporter from Business Insiders heard the California Democrat approach her longtime chief of staff, David Grannis, about confirming a federal judge.
After telling his 89-year-old boss that the six Senate votes slated for the day would be on Biden appointments, Grannis shook his head and said, “No.”
The most shocking part of the public episode was that Grannis was trying to map out what Feinstein—whose cognitive abilities have progressively come into question—needed to know about what was going on later, but she couldn’t remember what had happened minutes before.
Feinstein did not vote on Judge Adrienne C. Nelson’s nomination to the US District Court for the District of Oregon, according to an Insider assessment of the floor events. 52-46 votes confirmed Nelson. Feinstein voted to invoke cloture on judge Ana C. Reyes for the District of Columbia District Court. 52-47 was the procedural vote.
Feinstein’s newest misstep follows her staff’s announcement that she won’t run for a seventh term in 2024.
Feinstein’s impending retirement caught her and her colleagues by surprise, prompting conflict over her future. Feinstein exploded at employees in Insider’s presence after junior aides rushed her into a continuing resolution vote.
“I don’t even know what that is,” Feinstein told staff last fall on her way through the Senate subway. Clearly Feinstein is in decline both in her career and with her cognitive function and it would likely be best for both her and the country if she stepped down at this time.