Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-California) asked to temporarily step down from her post on the Senate judiciary committee as the 89-year-old recovers from a severe bout of shingles.
“I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee,” Feinstein said in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”
Schumer agreed to rally Democratic support to temporarily remove the committee assignment.
Feinstein’s absence has held up judicial appointments in the chamber. The missed opportunities to appoint federal judges have led to further calls from progressives for Feinstein to step down. She has missed 58 Senate votes since her diagnosis in February.
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Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) was among the first Democrats to call on Feinstein to step down.
“We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty,” Khanna tweeted. “While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.”
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota) echoed Khanna’s sentiment, calling Feinstein’s refusal to step down a “dereliction of duty.”
Feinstein, who is reported to have dealt with memory issues since her husband, Richard Blum, died in 2022, remains steadfast that she will return to her job.
“When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period,” she said. “Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis.”
Feinstein declared she would not seek reelection for her Senate seat in the next election. Californians will vote for her replacement in less than two years.
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