West News Wire: Sen. Dianne Feinstein has asked to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee while she recovers from shingles, so Senate Democrats started working on breaking the impasse that has prevented important judicial appointments for weeks on Thursday. 

According to a representative for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, he would ask the Senate to temporarily replace her seat on the prominent committee where Democrats only have a one-member majority next week. 

The first person to publicly call for Feinstein to resign was Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat who, like Feinstein, is from the state. On Thursday morning, Khanna asked, “Why [does she] not just take the step and resign instead of going through all of these motions?” 

“It has become painfully obvious to many of us in California that she is no longer able to fulfill her duties as she doesn’t have a clear return date,” he said on CNN. “We haven’t been able to confirm judges at a time where women’s rights and voting rights are under assault. Senator Durbin himself, the chair of the Judiciary, has said that the reason we’re not being able to move these judges is because Senator Feinstein isn’t there.” 

Asked by CNN’s Manu Raju earlier this week whether Feinstein’s absence had longer ramifications on Democrats’ ability to confirm politically-important judges, Judiciary Chair Sen. Dick Durbin said, “Yes, of course it does.” 

“And so as someone from California, I felt an obligation to say what’s so many colleagues are saying in private,” Khanna added. 

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The 89-year-old senator has been home in San Francisco since early March after she was diagnosed with shingles and hospitalized for about a week. She was due to return with the full Senate next week following its two-week recess but in a statement late Wednesday, after Khanna and another House Democrat called on her to resign, she said “due to complications” she would be further delayed. 

“When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period. Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis,” she said. 

Striking a defiant tone, Feinstein did not give an expected return date but said she intends to “as soon as possible.” 

“I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee, so I’ve asked Leader Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve until I’m able to resume my committee work,” she said. 

Feinstein has missed 60 of 82 votes this Congress. Fourteen of those votes have been on President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees, drawing criticism from Democrats who want to approve left-leaning judges for coveted lifetime appointments. 


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