If Democrats thought Republicans would help them easily solve their Dianne Feinstein dilemma, they would be disappointed.
A pair of Republicans who sit on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee have made it clear they will not vote to replace the 89-year-old California Democrat on the panel, as she requested due to health issues that kept her away of Washington for almost two years. month.
“I will not go along with Chuck Schumer’s plan to replace Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee and fill the court with activist judges. Joe Biden wants the Senate to automatically approve his unqualified and controversial judges to radically transform America said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) tweeted Monday.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also urged Republicans over the weekend for “not helping Democrats confirm Joe Biden’s most radical nominees in court.”
Democrats initially hoped to quickly replace Feinistein on the committee via what’s called a unanimous consent request in the Senate while she recovers from a shingles attack. Her absence has stalled the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees, which the committee is tasked with dealing with, and it’s unclear when she will return to the Senate.
However, any Republican senator could object to a request for unanimous consent, as Blackburn and Cotton have suggested. That likely means replacing Feinstein on the committee would require bipartisan support — at least 10 Republican votes — and a longer process that would waste valuable Senate time.
It’s unclear at this point whether Democrats will try to push through Feinstein’s replacement given GOP opposition to a quick vote. Of course, if Feinstein is able to return sooner than expected, the question would be moot for now, at least.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) told reporters Monday that he had spoken with Feinstein and that “she hopes to be back soon.”
“We believe Republicans should allow a temporary replacement until he returns,” Schumer added.
Democrats appear split on how to handle Feinstein’s absence. Some progressives, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have called for her to retire early before her scheduled date of late 2024 to allow Biden to confirm judicial nominees. The fate of abortion rights and LGBT rights in federal courts is too big for one person, they argued.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, said Democrats have many crucial votes ahead, including on the debt ceiling, that would require the California senator’s presence.
“If this continues month after month after month, then she will have to make a decision with her family and friends about what her future holds because it’s not just about California, it’s about the nation,” Klobuchar told ABC. “This week.”
But other Democratic senators did not support calls for Feinstein to step down.
“The decision of whether someone should resign is up to that person themselves,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told MSNBC’s “Inside With Jen Psaki” on Sunday. “I don’t think she should be deported.”
“We believe that a senator should be able to make his own judgment on when he retires,” added Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) during an interview Sunday on “the state of the Union” from CNN. “She has the right, in my opinion, to decide when she steps down.”
The Huffington Gt