Some Democrats have been calling on Senator Dianne Feinstein to step down from her post so that another liberal could take her place.
After spending a few months away from Washington due to multiple health problems, the 89-year-old California senator returned to the Senate recently. But, there have been many questions about her mental capacity to handle the job for the 19 months that still remain on her current term.
While Feinstein has said that she won’t be running for re-election in 2024, she also won’t be leaving Congress before her current term ends. That has angered many liberals who want her gone now, as they believe she’s holding up business on the very important Senate Judiciary Committee.
Yet, other seasoned Democrats say that having Feinstein leave would cause bigger problems than having her stay. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, explained when talking to Newsweek recently:
“The only way that the Judiciary Committee gets to assert the majority control that the American people gave us in the election is for her to stay and serve. When she does that, I think she is engaged in an act of very considerable bravery.”
Much of the focus of the Feinstein situation has been her health and ability to properly serve. She missed 10 weeks in the Senate due to shingles and other medical issues.
But, Whitehouse said that the focus of the whole situation has “completely missed” one of the key stories.
If Feinstein steps down, California Governor Gavin Newsom will name her replacement, which will naturally be another Democrat. However, it’s very likely that Republicans will block Democrats from naming a replacement for Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee if she resigns.
In other words, Whitehouse points out that if Feinstein resigns, the Judiciary Committee will remain deadlocked until the next Congress is seated. If Feinstein remains through the end of her current term, Democrats will hold a slight majority – and will be able to pass through any of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations.
Democrats already tried to get a temporary replacement for Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee while she was out on medical leave. But, liberals weren’t able to garner the necessary votes to overcome the filibuster in the Senate, which requires 60 votes – or the support of at least nine Republican senators in the current makeup.
Feinstein seems to know that she’s struggling, and in her final few months of serving the country, she has said that she’s going to be turning a lot of her focus on issues that affect her home state specifically. She said as much during a retirement announcement she made not long ago.
And speaking recently during a brief interview, she further explained this by saying:
“I represent a huge state. So, there are all kinds of things that come up, planning decisions that people don’t like as well as material things. So, we just do the best we can, check everything out, and try to make the best decision for the state.”