The Senate Democrats’ scheme to clear the backlog of judges tied up in the Judiciary Committee due to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s extended recovery from shingles hit a major roadblock on Tuesday when Republican Senator Lindsey Graham formally objected to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt to temporarily replace her through a unanimous consent vote, NBC News reported.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted a unanimous consent vote by the full Senate to replace Feinstein with Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, saying that Feinstein “made her wish clear” to have someone temporarily replace her until she returns from her extended recovery.
It only takes one senator to block a unanimous consent vote. And Judiciary Committee ranking member, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, was the one to block it.
Speaking in the Senate chamber, Graham reserved his right to object, noting that while 99 members of the Senate agree with Schumer’s words about wishing Senator Feinstein a “speedy recovery,” the unanimous consent vote “is about a handful of judges that you can’t get the votes.”
With unanimous consent off the table, Senate Democrats have few options left to break the stalemate in the Judiciary Committee.
Majority Leader Schumer can still call for a full Senate vote. But that would require 60 votes to pass, meaning the Democrats would need to peel away 10 Republicans for it to pass, which is unlikely since Republicans have already made it clear that they oppose the temporary replacement ploy.
With the hope of seating a temporary replacement in peril, some California Congressional Democrats are renewing their calls for the 89-year-old Feinstein to resign her seat.
Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), who last week called on Feinstein to step down, doubled down on Tuesday, arguing that Feinstein’s absence is hurting the Judiciary Committee’s ability to confirm judges “who will protect women’s rights and voting rights,” NBC News reported.