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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Dem. Knives Are Out for Ailing Sen. Feinstein as Judicial Nominees Languish

'It's unacceptable to have Sen. Feinstein miss vote after vote to confirm judges who will uphold reproductive rights....'

(Headline USA) As she recuperates from a case of shingles,  Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has fallen under attack from empathy-lacking members of the radical Left who are anxious to shore up questions over her soon-to-be-open Senate seat by ousting her ahead of schedule.

That could potentially install disgraced Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., or another choice to fill her seat with a year and a half to go until the 2024 election, giving the selection made by California Gov. Gavin Newsom an incumbency advantage in the race, which has several contenders already.

The senator, who turns 90 in June and is the oldest sitting member of Congress, has faced questions in recent years about her cognitive health and memory, though she has defended her effectiveness representing a state that is home to nearly 40 million people.

Feinstein herself appeared to be surprised by an announcement in February that she would not seek reelection in 2024, opening up her seat for the first time in over 30 years.

While Schiff and Rep. Katie Porter currently lead in the polls, Newsom might deem it necessary to make good on his pledge to support a black woman for the seat by replacing Feinstein with Rep. Barbara Lee, who is currently trailing significantly.

Republican contender Eric Early, who announced his plan to run, is likely to be a non-contender in the California race, where Democratic primaries often carry more weight than the general election. Nonetheless, a high-profile Republican like former gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder or former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger might prove a game-changer if they were to enter the fray.

Feinstein asked Wednesday to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee, shortly after two House Democrats and a former Obama speechwriter all called on her to resign following her extended absence from Washington. The chorus is likely to grow now that the floodgates have been opened.

The Judiciary Committee, where she has been a longstanding fixture, is key in the process for approving judicial nominations, meaning her absence may cost President Joe Biden precious opportunities to install more radical judges to lifetime federal appointments.

In a statement, the long-serving Democratic senator said her recovery, which she disclosed in early March, had been delayed because of complications. She provided no date for her return to the Senate and said she had asked Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to serve in her committee seat until she was able to return.

“I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel,” Feinstein said. “In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco.”

California Rep. Ro Khanna, one of two Democratic House members who called Wednesday for Feinstein to resign, said in a statement Wednesday: “This is a moment of crisis for women’s rights and voting rights. It’s unacceptable to have Sen. Feinstein miss vote after vote to confirm judges who will uphold reproductive rights.”

Khanna, a California progressive who has endorsed Lee’s campaign, wrote on Twitter that she should step aside.

“We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty,” he wrote. “While [Feinstein] has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties.”

Not long afterward, Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota tweeted that he agreed with Khanna.

Feinstein, he wrote, “is a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable. But I believe it’s now a dereliction of duty to remain in the Senate and a dereliction of duty for those who agree to remain quiet.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday from Ireland, where President Joe Biden was visiting, that Biden and first lady Jill Biden “wish Senator Feinstein the very best and a speedy recovery.”

She said Biden is “deeply appreciative of her support” for his judicial nominees and “respects and appreciates her commitment to public service.”

Newsom declined through a spokesperson to comment on Khanna’s statement.

“The governor is not calling on her to resign,” the spokesman, Anthony York, said in an email.

Before the calls for her resignation, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, acknowledged in remarks to CNN that Feinstein’s absence has slowed down their push to confirm nominees in the closely divided panel.

“I can’t consider nominees in these circumstances because a tie vote is a losing vote in committee,” Durbin said.

Feinstein has had a groundbreaking political career and shattered gender barriers from San Francisco’s City Hall to the corridors of Capitol Hill.

She was the first woman to serve as president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the 1970s and the first female mayor of San Francisco. She ascended to that post after the November 1978 assassinations of then-Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk by a former supervisor, Dan White. Feinstein found Milk’s body.

In the Senate, she was the first woman to head the Senate Intelligence Committee and the first woman to serve as the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat. She gained a reputation as a pragmatic centrist who left a mark on political battles over issues ranging from reproductive rights to environmental protection.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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