Washington Examiner

Feinstein responds to Senate absence criticism, no return date given.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein Pushes Back on Absence Criticism

Democrats Call for Resignation

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been absent from the Senate since March due to hospitalization with shingles. Despite mounting pressure from within her own party to resign, the 89-year-old senator released a statement on Thursday pushing back on suggestions that her absence has stalled President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations.

Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, pointed out that the committee has advanced eight district and circuit court nominees in her absence. However, without her present, the committee is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, and nominees need a majority to make it out of the committee and onto the Senate floor for full confirmation.

“While the Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced eight strong nominees during my absence, I’m disappointed that Republicans on the committee are blocking a few from moving forward,” she said.

Despite the criticism, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has come to Feinstein’s defense, telling CNN that it’s “a shame” people have been calling on her to resign.

Feinstein Rejects Calls for Resignation

Feinstein has rejected the calls for her resignation, saying in April she would instead step down from the Judiciary Committee and have Schumer name a replacement. But Senate Republicans blocked the Democrat’s attempt to replace her on the committee.

The campaign to replace Feinstein as the next senator from California is in full force, with three sitting House members already in the race.

Remaining Judicial Nominees

Feinstein did say she is “confident” that when she returns to the Senate, they will be able to advance the remaining judicial nominees. Still, she provided no timetable for her return.

On Tuesday, a Politico photographer snapped a picture of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) notes at a press conference that said he had spoken with Feinstein on Monday, and they are both “hopeful she can return next week.”

Democrats Call for Resignation

Feinstein is set to retire at the end of this Congress but has faced mounting pressure from within her own party to resign before then. On Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said on social media she believes Feinstein “should retire” and her refusal to do so “is causing great harm to the judiciary.”

Fellow “squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) also called for her resignation, saying in a tweet last week, “Sen. Feinstein must step down.”

“Because Sen. Feinstein was absent, Republicans are passing legislation through the Senate, undermining the right of our residents to breathe clean air,” the tweet read. “And with a far-right judiciary targeting our human rights, we are unable to confirm judges.”

Despite the criticism, Feinstein has rejected the calls for her resignation, saying in April she would instead step down from the Judiciary Committee and have Schumer name a replacement. But Senate Republicans blocked the Democrat’s attempt to replace her on the committee.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been absent from the Senate since March due to hospitalization with shingles.
  • Feinstein released a statement on Thursday pushing back on suggestions that her absence has stalled President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations.
  • Despite mounting pressure from within her own party to resign, Feinstein has rejected the calls for her resignation.
  • The campaign to replace Feinstein as the next senator from California is in full force, with three sitting House members already in the race.


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