California Democrat representative, Ro Khanna, has called for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s resignation amidst her prolonged absence from duty. Senator Feinstein has been absent from the Senate and judiciary committee since late February, after facing complications from shingles. Her absence, coupled with the absence of Pennsylvania’s embattled Senator, John Fetterman (sidelined with a bout of depression), has left the democratic lawmakers feeling hamstrung in the senate.
In Ro Khanna’s tweet, he zeroed in on the fears plaguing lawmakers and their constituents: “We have a crisis in the judiciary with extremist judges stripping away women’s rights. You can’t preach on television about the danger of these judges and then sit silently as Senator Feinstein misses vote after vote to confirm pro-choice judges.”
The crisis Khanna is referring to is the recent scuffle between courts over the access to abortion pills. Last friday, a texas judge suspended Mifepristone, a common abortion drug, citing questions over it’s movement through the FDA regulatory process, and safety concerns, since it was made available roughly 23 years ago.
A Washington State judge issued a dueling injunction; and the FDA is appealing the ruling; but House democrats are seeing these developments as a sign that time is of the essence.
The recent call for Feinstein’s absence marks a peak in years of questions over her cognitive ability to continue fulfilling her duties; and although the impassioned pleas of democratic representatives have some weight to them, there is also a rumbling of strategy in removing Feinstein. Three representatives have launched Senate campaigns to take Feinstein’s place. One of which seems to have an advantage as she (Representative Barbara Lee) is in line with California Governor Newsom’s vow to fill the seat with a black woman when Feinstein steps down. Seating Lee for the last 2 years of Feinstein’s term could give her an advantage ahead of an official appointment.
Senator Feinstein and her team have responded to the calls for her resignation last Wednesday, stating, “When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period. Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis…I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel. In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco.” Feinstein has tapped Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, to provide a temporary judiciary committee stand-in to help protect the vote for Biden’s judicial nominees.