Sheldon Whitehouse: Dianne Feinstein Should Not Resign No Matter What Because We Need Judges Confirmed
“The fact is simple: if Senator Feinstein resigns, Mitch McConnell gets to decide whether Democrats have a Senate Judiciary majority.”
The situation involving California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has become an uncomfortable one for her fellow Democrats, some of whom have been calling on her to resign. Others have said Feinstein, who will turn 90 on June 22 and who has been in the Senate since 1992, has earned the right to end her career on her terms and that her desire, expressed through her staff, to serve her full term should be respected.
Others, however, have taken to saying the quiet part out loud about how regardless of her declining physical and cognitive health, Feinstein must remain in the Senate because Democrats need judges confirmed.
For instance, in a recent interview with the L.A. Times, former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told members of her party who were demanding Feinstein step down that they should be careful what they wish for because it would effectively mean a 10-10 stalemate on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Feinstein currently serves, until after the 2024 election:
She sees no guarantee that Republicans would allow another Democrat to replace the 89-year-old Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In fact, Boxer is convinced they would not.
“They’ve already showed their hand,” she said, by refusing to let a temporary replacement fill in while Feinstein recuperates from shingles and its severe side effects. “I think it speaks volumes to their lack of humanity.”
So it would be best, Boxer suggested, for Feinstein to remain until her intended January 2025 retirement date, staying on hand for critical votes when Democrats — who control the Senate by a bare 51-49 majority — need her.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a one-man wrecking crew when it comes to Senate norms, agreed with the sentiment expressed by Boxer but went a step further, pointing to Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the supposed reason why Feinstein could not and should not leave the Senate before her term is up:
The fact is simple: if Senator Feinstein resigns, Mitch McConnell gets to decide whether Democrats have a Senate Judiciary majority.https://t.co/FTDyRiB4T7
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) June 16, 2023
Now one would think that with California Gov. Gavin Newsom being a Democrat, that appointing a temporary replacement for Feinstein would happen rather quickly. But if that happened, that person wouldn’t just automatically replace Feinstein on the committees on which she serves; they would also have to be voted on by the full Senate:
Senators are formally elected to standing committees by the entire membership of the Senate, but in practice each party conference is largely responsible for determining which of its members will sit on each committee.
Membership of Senate committees is determined by a vote of the full Senate and is subject to a 60 vote threshold. So replacing Feinstein on Judiciary is now impossible without Republican votes. https://t.co/HLVzscrWmJ
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) June 16, 2023
Twice-failed Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton has also uttered similar arguments to Boxer’s and Whitehouse’s, except in her case she explained her position in her customary callous way:
“Here’s the dilemma: the Republicans will not agree to add someone else to the Judiciary Committee if she retires,” she continued, referencing Feinstein’s powerful committee membership.
“I want you to think about how crummy that is. I don’t know in her heart about whether she really would or wouldn’t, but right now, she can’t. Because if we’re going to get judges confirmed, which is one of the most important continuing obligations that we have, then we cannot afford to have her seat vacant.”
“If Republicans were to say and do the decent thing and say, well this woman was gravely ill, she had just lost her husband to cancer… of course we will let you fill this position if she retires. But they won’t say that,” she continued. “So what are we supposed to do? All these people pushing her to retire: fine, we get no more judges? I don’t think that’s a good tradeoff.” [emphasis mine]
So Clinton admits that Feinstein, who looked extraordinarily frail upon her return to the Senate and who is now being shielded from the press, was “gravely ill” over the last several of months with a condition (severe case of shingles) you don’t get over easily and on top of that has been suffering for over a year now over the loss of her husband to cancer—yet she still believes Feinstein should continue serving.
Case in point:
"CNN This Morning" did run audio today from the LA Times interviewing Sen. Feinstein and she claimed "I haven't been gone" after she's been gone from the Senate for several months. Can Feinstein's office stonewall media inquiries on this one? Will the media lack enthusiasm? pic.twitter.com/5oSSrnaaqo
— Tim Graham (@TimJGraham) May 17, 2023
But that doesn’t seem to matter in the eyes of Democrats like Clinton, Whitehouse, and Boxer, all of whom apparently believe Feinstein should be dragged if necessary into the Senate Judiciary Committee because without her Biden’s more radical judicial nominees don’t make it to the Senate floor for a full vote.
And yet they want to lecture Republicans about “humanity” and “decency.” Just how much more cold-blooded can these people actually be?
As it turns out, just a little bit colder, as Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall demonstrated by essentially saying as long as Feinstein has a warm body and a pulse she should stay in the Senate:
As long as DF can be physically present there’s really no issue afaik. But this is based on allowing the manifest abuse of rules. It’s a decision to allow them that choice. https://t.co/D6nnuLeAjP
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 16, 2023
I mean if you read between the lines, what these people are saying is that Dianne Feinstein’s health and well-being are secondary to woke Democrat nominees getting shoved through the Senate Judiciary Committee in part by someone who does not even remember being absent from the Senate for over two months and who had to be reminded by her handlers that she had, in fact, announced she wouldn’t be running for another term.
Whitehouse got blasted on the Twitter machine over his remarks, including by some who pointed out that Democrats could have resolved this problem by not putting Feinstein back on the Judiciary Committee the last go-around in the first place:
Then I guess it was a colossal mistake by democrats to put her back on the committee again https://t.co/1s9AQRDY9w
— Patrick (@McJustTweeted) June 16, 2023
So screw her quality of life, you just care about the power.
We see you. https://t.co/EiM9QdU2Et
— The🐰FOO (@PolitiBunny) June 17, 2023
What you’re saying is, you care more about power than the health of a clearly unhealthy and deteriorating woman. You’re a disgusting human being.
Wheel her in, just say “aye” or “no” when we tell you to. Is that it? https://t.co/oapuqGyEaN
— Mike Dury (@MikeDury) June 16, 2023
…So we will continue to put a very elderly woman on a committee she is clearly not well enough to be on because politics.
Great job, everyone…. https://t.co/z0EmT74EaP
— NewsRadio 830 KHVH (@khvh) June 16, 2023
How very like Democrats to prioritize power over individual well-being.
— As an AI Large Language Model, (@Corvaiex) June 17, 2023
Grassley is sharp as a tack. Feinstein is being propped up by people who don’t care about her health. They need her vote. https://t.co/30gHWslrMJ
— The New Majority (@NixonandIke) June 17, 2023
And though it goes without saying that Sen. Whitehouse is as duplicitous and hypocritical as they come, I would just like to point out that though a tied Senate Judiciary Committee is absolutely unacceptable in his view, a tied Supreme Court is perfectly okay in the event one of the conservative Justices needed to recuse themselves from a case due to alleged conflicts of interest under a farcical Whitehouse-pushed SCOTUS “ethics reform” package:
"The Court managed to function with only eight justices for more than a year, I think they can manage to function with only eight justices in one particular case." pic.twitter.com/B7RzsvFAHQ
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) June 16, 2023
As to what McConnell would do if Feinstein did retire early, who knows? But my thought on this is that Republicans would be smart to ignore the rantings of the likes of Sheldon Whitehouse on this issue and proceed exactly as Sheldon Whitehouse and his fellow Democrats would if the shoe were on the other foot.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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