When 89-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was hospitalized for shingles in early March it was expected that she would soon return, but she has continued to be absent from her duties and now some Democrats are calling for her to resign and be replaced.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) strongly implied on Wednesday that such calls for Feinstein's resignation were sexist, in that she couldn't recall there being any similar demands for resignation for male senators with prolonged illnesses, Breitbart reported.
Pelosi must not be paying attention, however, as both Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have also been absent from the Senate for the same period of time as Feinstein and there have been calls from some for both of them to resign or retire as well.
"Senator Feinstein has been a champion for California," Rep. Pelosi said Wednesday when asked about the calls for her resignation. "For 20 years I have been the Leader or the Speaker of the House fighting for California, and I have seen up close and firsthand her great leadership for our country, but especially for our state of California."
"She deserves the respect to get well and be back on duty," she added. "And it’s interesting to me, 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."
Breitbart reported that one of the recent calls for Sen. Feinstein to resign came on Tuesday on the progressive Pod Save America program, where former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett argued that the elderly senator's prolonged absence revealed that she was "no longer fit to serve" and was "preventing" the Senate Judiciary Committee on which she serves from being able to confirm President Joe Biden's judicial nominees.
He went on to praise the senator's "storied" career but also called out those around her who perpetuate the "farce" of an absent senator, and concluded, "Dianne Feinstein should no longer be in the Senate. She has to -- she should resign, and more people should be calling on her to resign."
.@jonlovett on Dianne Feinstein:
She is now preventing us from being able to confirm judges... As sad as it is to see someone who has had an incredibly storied and important career... Dianne Feinstein should no longer be in the Senate. She should resign. pic.twitter.com/aPPMVUJuq2
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) April 11, 2023
As if on cue, progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted on Wednesday, "It’s time for @SenFeinstein to resign. We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. 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."
That message was then retweeted later that day by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), who added, "I agree with @RoKhanna. Senator Feinstein is a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable. But I believe it’s now a dereliction of duty to remain in the Senate and a dereliction of duty for those who agree to remain quiet."
Also on Wednesday, Sen. Feinstein released a statement that stated that her "return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications" and that she would return as soon as "my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel." She added, "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."
According to a tweet from Punchbowl News reporter Andrew Desiderio, "Schumer spox: 'Per Sen. Feinstein’s wishes, Majority Leader Schumer will ask the Senate next week to allow another Democratic Senator to temporarily serve on the Judiciary Committee.'"
However, doing so would require Republican cooperation, and given how crucially important judicial nominations are, it is certainly not in the GOP's best interests to help Democrats confirm more left-leaning judges to the federal courts.