Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell pledged on Tuesday that Republicans would not allow Democrats to replace Feinstein temporarily.
He claimed that Democrats merely want a replacement to push through the most partisan judges.
McConnell referred to Feinstein’s desire to have a replacement on the panel while she heals from shingles as “extremely unusual” without precedent.
McConnell remarked on the Senate floor, “Let’s be clear. Republicans in the Senate will not help Democrats push through their worst nominations by removing a temporarily absent member from a committee.
For Democrats seeking to utilize their majority to confirm as many of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations as possible, Feinstein, 89, has been AWOL from the Senate since February.
The California senator requested to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary panel in a statement she released last week amid calls for her resignation from the Senate.
To achieve that, though, Democrats would need Republican backing, which McConnell said would not occur.
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the majority leader in the Senate, has stated that he is moving forward and intends to bring a resolution to the Senate floor this week to request unanimous permission to choose a temporary replacement.
But it will probably be stopped, and it’s not sure if Democrats would support it.
Due to their one-seat majority on the committee, Democrats can only advance nominations to the Senate floor with backing from both parties, thus, Feinstein’s absence is significant. Democrats claim that without Feinstein, they could not move 12 candidates for federal judges.
How many of the nominees would be able to gain support from the GOP is unknown.
McConnell made his remarks after several Republican senators declared on Monday that they would oppose the Democratic proposal because they didn’t want to assist Democrats in confirming liberal justices and didn’t think senators should try to force one of their own out of the system.
Republicans Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine expressed the opinion that Democrats are unfairly pressing Feinstein.
Collins stated that she and Feinstein are close friends and believe a “concerted campaign” has been launched to remove Feinstein from the judiciary committee. Collins declared, “I will not participate in that.”
Feinstein is facing increasing pressure to stand down from her position or resign. She has defended her efficacy, but in recent years, her memory and cognitive health have become doubtless, and she has seemed weak.
After receiving criticism from liberals for how she handled the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, she declared in 2020 that she would step down as the leading Democrat on the judiciary panel. Even though she was in line to become the governing party’s senior member and Senate president pro tempore, she said earlier this year that she would not accept the position.
Every day the Senate is opened by the president pro tempore, who also performs other formal functions.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a veteran committee member who is the same age as Feinstein, criticized Democrats for denying Feinstein the chance to lead the committee and attempting to remove her “because she’s old.”
Democrats would have a far easier time replacing Feinstein if she quit immediately because California Governor Gavin Newsom would do it. After a senator’s predecessor has resigned or passed away, the Senate frequently confirms the incoming senator’s committee assignments.
However, requesting a temporary replacement due to illness is uncommon, if not unheard of.
Democrats have demanded her complete resignation. She requested a temporary replacement immediately after Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., insisted that she resign from the Senate because it is “unacceptable” for her to skip votes to approve judges who may have an impact on abortion rights, a top Democratic issue.
Feinstein is “a legend in California politics and a legend in the Senate chamber,” according to another member of the California delegation, Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar, but her vote will be required when Congress attempts to increase the debt ceiling this year.
He stated, “I will say that our expectation as House Democrats is that every senator will need to participate.” He added, “she should get to choose that timeline.”
Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responded to a question about whether Feinstein should quit by saying, “I’m not going to push her into any other decision.” Durbin has previously voiced anger about the nominees that his committee’s been unable to go forward with.
Republican Senator Richard Durbin urged them to “show a little kindness and care for their colleague.”
Durbin added, “I think we can take care of this issue, do it very quickly,” if the Senate votes to remove her off the panel. I hope we can get 10 Republicans to help us in that endeavor.