Democrats in the Senate are trying to have California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat on the Judiciary Committee temporarily replaced with someone else, but Republicans in the upper chamber are having none of it.
As such, media outlet The Hill reported recently that liberals don’t have any choice at all; they must continue to wait the process out, even as the number of judicial nominations sitting in the backlog continues to grow.
On Monday, Republicans in the Senate were against allowing another Democrat to fill Feinstein’s spot on the Judiciary Committee. Without Feinstein on the committee, members are deadlocked, which allows Republicans to block certain judges from making their way out of the committee for a full vote in the Senate.
Feinstein hasn’t been able to appear in the Senate since the upper chamber returned from its normal recess back in February because she has shingles. That has put the committee in a deadlock.
The Judiciary Committee hasn’t voted to advance any judicial nominee since back on February 16. It has also canceled the three most recent markups on nominations because of Feinstein’s absence.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said that Feinstein would “soon” return to the Senate. On Monday, he said there isn’t a need for a replacement to be made for a lengthy period of time, even as many people have called for Feinstein, who is 89 years old, to step down from the Senate entirely.
To this point, Feinstein hasn’t bowed to that pressure for her to resign. She has announced that she won’t be running for re-election after her current term ends at the end of next year.
Democrats have been hoping to blow through judicial nominations in a smooth manner so that they can get more liberal judges on federal benches across the country. At the same time, The Hill reports that they’re trying to walk the tightrope of being respectful to Feinstein, who is the longest-tenured member on the Senate Democratic Caucus.
As such, they don’t have any choice but to wait for her to return to the Senate.
Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper from Colorado recently commented:
“I don’t think it’s clear yet how quickly her recovery is coming around. … If she could come back in a week or two, I think that’s fine – even several weeks. She’s someone who’s served this country for a long time in a very high level. She deserves to create her own timeline.
“She knows in her heart of hearts how quickly she can get here. She knows how important it is – that we need her. So, let’s give her a little time to sort through it.”
To this point, 14 judicial nominees have appeared before the Judiciary Committee for hearings, but haven’t yet received a full vote from the committee on whether to advance them to a full Senate confirmation vote.
That has led to many Democrats to express their frustration at the process, with some including Democratic Representative Ro Khanna calling for Feinstein to resign from the Senate.