Many changes will happen on Capitol Hill in January as newly elected members of Congress fill their seats, but one particularly notable change will happen on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
On Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced that she will be stepping down as the ranking member on the committee.
This decision from the longtime senator comes after she received tremendous backlash from some Democrats for not being more aggressive during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by President Donald Trump.
Feinstein makes it official
The California senator released an official statement on Monday making the announcement.
“After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress,” Feinstein wrote, adding that she looks forward to serving as a “senior Democrat” on a number of committees under the incoming administration.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) praised his colleague upon learning of the news that she would be stepping down, Fox News reported.
“I am deeply grateful for Senator Feinstein’s leadership and contributions to our caucus and country as the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee over the last four years,” Schumer said in a statement. He added that she will be an asset to other committees, given her extensive history with working with former senator and Vice President Joe Biden.
The ugly backlash
Some have speculated that it was Feinstein’s lack of aggressiveness in the Barrett hearings that ultimately led to her being pressured out of the top Judiciary Committee seat.
According to Politico, members of the party were concerned that Feinstein would not be able to bring the desired level of heat at Barrett’s hearing — a hearing that Democrats strongly and repeatedly said was not legitimate given the proximity to the upcoming presidential election.
After the hearings finalized and Barrett was eventually confirmed, a number of left-wing groups lashed out at Feinstein, even calling for her resignation.
Executive Director of Demand Justice Brian Fallon applauded Feinstein’s resignation: “Going forward, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee must be led by someone who will not wishfully cling to a bygone era of civility and decorum that Republicans abandoned long ago.”
Shortly after Feinstein’s announcement that she will be stepping down, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) — possibly next in line for the top spot — immediately expressed his interest in Feinstein’s seat, according to The Hill.