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Feinstein Requests a “Temporary” Replacement on Judiciary Amid Party Demands to Resign

Despite some pressure from her own party, California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein revealed Wednesday night that she had sought to be “temporarily” replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee while she recovers from shingles.

Sen. Feinstein, 89, said in a statement, “I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee, so I have asked Leader Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve until I am able to resume my committee work.”

In a statement, Feinstein explained that she had hoped to return to Washington “by the end of the March work period,” but that her return had been “delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis.” She stated she would come back “as soon as possible after receiving clearance from her doctors.”

The declaration followed an extremely unusual occurrence in which members of Congress publicly called for the resignation of a fellow party member. Another House Democrat on Twitter agreed with California Democrat Ro Khanna’s earlier request for her resignation.

“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,”

Khanna, the co-chair of Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee’s campaign to fill Feinstein’s Senate seat in 2024, said Wednesday on Twitter. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday night that, “per Sen. Feinstein’s wishes,” he would “ask the Senate next week to allow another Democratic Senator to temporarily serve on the Judiciary Committee.”

A unanimous vote on a resolution to appoint a new member to the committee would be required to fill her seat. At the start of each new Senate session, members are usually assigned to committees as part of an organizing resolution. The routine at the beginning of a new Congress is usually smooth. The leaders concur, and the resolution passes with 100% support.

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During a recent interview with CNN, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin admitted that Feinstein’s absence had hindered the party’s push to confirm nominees. The Illinois Democrat answered, “Yes, of course it does,” when asked if her absence will have lasting effects on the Democrats’ ability to confirm nominations, citing the time-consuming nature of scheduling votes on nominees amid limited floor time.

Feinstein said at the beginning of March that she was hospitalized for treatment of shingles. She tweeted on March 7 that she was continuing to get well at home while undergoing treatment and that she was eager to get back to work in the Senate “as soon as possible.”

Earlier on Wednesday, multiple sources told CNN that she had not yet been given a firm return date. The senator declared in February that she will not seek reelection, setting the stage for a crowded Democratic primary for Feinstein’s seat in 2024.

The future of the seat without Feinstein is on the minds of more than just California Democrats. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) responded to Khanna’s tweet on Wednesday by stating his agreement.

“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,” Phillips tweeted.

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