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Amid Pressure to Resign, Feinstein Asks Senate to Replace Her on Judiciary Panel

Rep. Ro Khanna said her absence has delayed efforts to advance judicial nominees who will protect the right to abortion.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks to reporters after departing the Senate Chamber to vote at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

After two fellow Democratic lawmakers urged her to resign, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that she has asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to move to temporarily replace her on the chamber’s judiciary committee, alluding to the impact her absence has had on the panel’s ability to advance President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees.

“When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period. Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis,” Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement, without offering a specific timeline for her return.

But Feinstein, who is 89, signaled that she has no intention of giving up her Senate seat entirely, saying she intends to “return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel.”

Feinstein announced earlier this year that she is not running for reelection in 2024. She’s set to leave office in January 2025.

“In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco,” the senator said Wednesday. “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.”

Any effort to replace Feinstein on the judiciary panel, which is currently split 10-10 between Democrats and Republicans, could run into issues if the GOP — which has worked to obstruct Biden’s judicial nominations — refuses to grant unanimous consent.

If Senate Republicans object to a unanimous consent request, 60 votes will be needed to replace Feinstein on the committee.

A spokesperson for Schumer said late Wednesday that he “will ask the Senate next week to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve on the Judiciary Committee.”

Feinstein’s statement came after a pair of Democratic lawmakers — Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) — said the California senator should resign, with Phillips calling it “a dereliction of duty” for her to remain in the Senate.

In a statement to The San Francisco Standard, Khanna said that “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.”

“Senator Feinstein is unable to fulfill her duties,” said Khanna, “and for the good of the people, she should resign.”

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