Senate Democrats grow nervous after Dianne Feinstein's fall

 August 14, 2023

Last week saw longtime Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein taken to the hospital after suffering a fall at her home.

Although the 90-year-old lawmaker was quickly released, The Hill recently noted that her ordeal has some in her party worried. 

Concerns over Feinstein's seat on Senate Judiciary Committee

The publication pointed out that Feinstein sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.

The implications of that fact became evident earlier this year when Feinstein was away from Washington for months while suffering from shingles.

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin complained in an interview with CNN host Jake Tapper that her absence created "a challenge in the Senate Judiciary Committee to do our business" as the body struggled to confirm President Joe Biden's judicial nominees.

Republicans won't allow Feinstein to be replaced

"I want to treat Dianne Feinstein fairly. I want to be sensitive to her family situation and her personal situation," Durbin insisted.

"I don't want to say that she's going to be put under more pressure than others have been in the past. But the bottom line is the business of the committee and of the Senate is affected by her absence," he stressed.

Meanwhile, The Washington Times reported that Senate Republicans refused to consider replacing Feinstein with another Democratic senator.

The Hill reported that Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse raised the issue when speaking with journalists on Friday.

Democratic congressman calls for Feinstein to step down

He stressed that it would be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's "prerogative" to block judicial nominations, adding, "And the notion that he wouldn’t do that is fantastical."

Another concern is the need for Democratic unity to pass a continuing resolution so as to fund the government while appropriations bills.

"Attendance is always going to be important. She needs to be here, but so does everyone else," an unnamed Democratic Senate aide was quoted as saying.

However, some members have been more blunt in their assessment of Feinstein's situation, with California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna saying in April that she needs to step down.

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