Sen. Feinstein Asks to Be Temporarily Replaced on Judiciary Committee Amid Calls to Resign

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is requesting leader Chuck Schumer ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve on the judiciary committee.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday asked to be temporarily replaced on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee while she recovers from shingles.

Feinstein, 89, released a statement following stepped-up pressure from fellow Democrats for her to resign from the Senate. Her absence for over a month has delayed confirmation of President Joe Biden's judicial nominees, critics say.

"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," Feinstein said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rep. Ro Khanna, (D-Santa Clara) called on Feinstein to step down.

"We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty," Khanna said in a post on Twitter. "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."

Feinstein's statement on Wednesday, however, gave no hint about resigning.

When she was first diagnosed, Feinstein said she had expected to return by the end of March, but complications have delayed that, the senator said.

Feinstein holds a decisive vote on the judiciary committee. But NBC Bay Area's political analyst Larry Gerston thinks there’s more.

“So, this looks like an effort on Ro Khanna’s part to move this along in Barbara Lee’s favor, tie this thing all up. So, that there’s no real competition come the nomination next year,” he said.

Lee is running to fill Feinstein’s seat when she retires next year. California Governor Gavin Newsom has already said that he would appoint a Black woman to Feinstein’s seat should she step down before that.

Khanna is also a co-chair of Lee’s campaign.

“It’s a pretty transparent effort on his part,” Gerston said.

But representative Nancy Pelosi called it an agenda, coming to Feinstein’s defense and said that she deserves the time to get well.

“I don’t know what political agendas are at work that are going after Senator Feinstein in that way. I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way,” Pelosi said.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown told NBC Bay Area Wednesday that a resignation should be up to Feinstein.

“She can only do it that way and Ro Khanna and every other person knows that,” Brown said.

A spokesperson for Senator Chuck Schumer’s office said he would ask the Senate next week about Feinstein’s request.

At least three California lawmakers have already announced plans to run for Feinstein’s seat in 2024. They are congressman Adam Schiff, who represents the 30th District near Los Angeles, congresswoman Katie Porter from Orange County and Bay Area congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Bay City News contributed to the report.

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