Republicans block Schumer from replacing Feinstein on key committee

 April 19, 2023

Senate Republicans stopped majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-Ny.) from appointing a temporary replacement for 89-year-old Dianne Feinstein (Ca.) on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein has been absent for weeks over the shingles, and which has forced Democrats to press pause on confirming judges to the federal courts.

Schumer attempted to replace Feinstein with Ben Cardin (D-Md.) by unanimous consent on Tuesday, but the effort was shut down by Lindsey Graham (R-Sc.).

GOP blocks replacement effort

Finding a substitute for Feinstein is the "right and fair" thing to do, Schumer said. But Republicans like Marsha Blackburn (Tn.), who sits on the Judiciary panel, say Democrats are breaking precedent to pursue an agenda.

“I will not go along with Chuck Schumer’s plan to replace Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee and pack the court with activist judges. Joe Biden wants the Senate to rubber stamp his unqualified and controversial judges to radically transform America," she said.

Some Republicans have said they won't support the effort out of respect for Feinstein, with Susan Collins (Me.) citing a "concerted campaign" to remove her, although Feinstein herself has asked Schumer to find a substitute.

There have long been whispers about Feinstein's fitness, and those whispers have only grown louder in recent weeks.

While a handful of Democrats, such as Ro Khanna (Ca.), have vocalized what the party is quietly thinking, the party has mostly deferred to the veteran senator.

Awkward dilemma

Feinstein has said she won't seek re-election in 2024, but she has given no indication of retiring before then. Her obstinacy, and her party's feeling of obligation toward her, has left Democrats to embrace an awkward, and, Republicans say, cynical solution to their dilemma.

If she were to step aside, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) could simply appoint a new senator and be done with it. Republicans say they aren't opposed to that.

While appointing senators is common, Democrats want to do something unheard of by appointing a replacement for one specific committee.

The 2024 election is more than a year out, so it's likely the issue will continue to vex Democrats if Feinstein doesn't step aside.

Biden has made it a top priority to create a judiciary that "looks like America." In practice, that has meant more "diverse" and underqualified nominees, some of whom have been stumped by basic questions on legal concepts.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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