Democrats are no longer circling the wagons around California Senator Dianne Feinstein as some party members have begun calling for the 89-year-old to step down as her health further dwindles.
Feinstein, who has spent nearly two months away from the Senate while recovering from a bout of shingles, is unlikely to return anytime soon according to POLITICO. Her deteriorating condition leaves Democrats without a critical single-vote margin to secure passage of legislation.
Shortly after the news broke, California Congressman Ro Khanna tweeted what many Democrats have been saying privately for months: it’s time for the senior senator 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,” said Congressman Khanna.
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
Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota cited Khanna’s statement in his own call for Senator Feinstein to step down, calling her absence a “dereliction of duty” by Senate Democrats.
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
In a statement Wednesday, Feinstein asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee so that President Joe Biden’s judicial appointments are not held up by her absence. Rep. 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 unusual move could be tricky, however, 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 will be seated if Republicans do not vote for a temporarily replacement to Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee.
Others in the Democratic Party have pushed back, notably Senator Chris Murphy who told MSNBC he was “offended” over calls for Senator Feinstein to resign. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has charged that it is sexist to demand the senior Democrat resign while critics presumably remain silent about elder male lawmakers.