There is growing concern among Democrats over Senator Dianne Feinstein’s health and ability to continue serving in the Senate. Feinstein has been recovering from shingles for nearly two months, and her absence leaves Democrats without a critical single-vote margin to secure passage of legislation.
California Congressman Ro Khanna has tweeted that it’s time for Feinstein to resign. He says, “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.” Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota agrees, calling her absence a “dereliction of duty” by Senate Democrats.
Feinstein has asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee so that President Joe Biden’s judicial appointments are not held up by her absence. However, some Democrats are unhappy with this move. Representative Khanna has called out the perceived hypocrisy of Democrats complaining about anti-abortion judges while remaining silent on Feinstein’s inability to join her colleagues in confirming pro-choice judges.
The situation is becoming increasingly complex, as Senate rules require at least 60 votes for such a swap. Republican senators such as Mike Lee of Utah may use the opportunity to argue that fewer of President Biden’s judicial picks will be seated if Republicans do not vote for a temporary replacement for Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee.
Some Democrats are pushing back against calls for Feinstein’s resignation. Senator Chris Murphy has told MSNBC he is “offended” by the calls, saying she has been an incredible public servant for decades and deserves respect and admiration.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also pushed back, charging that it is sexist to demand the senior Democrat resign while critics remain silent about elder male lawmakers.
Democrats need to find a way to handle the situation without losing their critical single-vote margin in the Senate. The situation is complex, and it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome will be.