As ailing California Senator Dianne Feinstein misses more and more critical judicial confirmation votes, Senate Republicans are vowing to prevent her from seating a proxy voter on the powerful Judiciary Committee.
Over the weekend, several prominent Republicans spoke with POLITICO about the need to prevent President Joe Biden from stacking the courts, even if that means breaking with tradition to respect the declining health of a colleague. By seating a temporary replacement, Senator Feinstein had hoped to stave off calls for her complete resignation from the Senate where Democrats are seeing legislative ambitions stalled without their single-vote majority.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a Judiciary member, spoke up for his colleagues, tweeting, “Republicans should not assist Democrats in confirming Joe Biden’s most radical nominees to the courts.”
Republicans should not assist Democrats in confirming Joe Biden’s most radical nominees to the courts. https://t.co/Dq7DFfojVi
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 15, 2023
A senior GOP aide added that while many Senate Republicans have great respect for the 89-year-old Feinstein, they do not want to be seen as helping to seat President Biden’s judicial nominees. The caucus will be watching for cues from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been conspicuously silent on the matter as he prepares to return to work after a health scare of his own. The ranking Senate Republican was hospitalized several weeks ago after tumbling down the stairs of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“My instinct is he would do everything he could to keep Democrats from stacking the federal judiciary,” one confidant told Playbook. “It would be a little strange for him to grease the wheels to continue to churn out what heretofore has been a pretty high rate of confirmations” for Biden.
Without a victory, Senator Feinstein would be left facing chagrin with her Democratic colleagues who are split between giving her time to recover and calling for her ouster. California Congressman Ro Khanna has publicly advocated for her retirement while former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Feinstein should be given the time she needs to recover and return to work.