California Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that would leave her role as a Democratic leader after incurring party backlash for her role in Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings.
The 87-year-old senator spun the decision to drop out of her position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as an opportunity to focus on “crucial issues” affecting “wildfire and drought” ridden home state California.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“California is a huge state confronting two existential threats — wildfire and drought — that are only getting worse with climate change. In the next Congress, I plan to increase my attention on those two crucial issues,” Feinstein stated. “I also believe that defeating COVID-19, combating climate change and protecting access to health care are critical national priorities that require even more concentration.”
Feinstein, who is the nation’s oldest senator, experienced the furor of fellow democrats after thanking and Republican Chairman Lindsey Graham at the conclusion of Coney-Barrett’s confirmation.
“Mr. Chairman, I just want to thank you,” she told Graham. “This has been one of the best Senate hearings that I’ve participated in, and I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity of going back and forth.”
Liberals balked at the display, and two groups opposed to Coney-Barrett’s appointment demanded Feinstein’s resignation.
“It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee. If she won’t, her colleagues need to intervene,” said Demand Justice’s Brian Fallon, citing that she undermined “calls for filibuster and Court reform straight through to thanking Republicans for the most egregious partisan power grab in the modern history of the Supreme Court.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue echoed the sentiment, stating that Feinstein, “offered an appearance of credibility to the proceedings that is wildly out of step with the American people. As such, we believe the committee needs new leadership.”
Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, said he had a “long and serious talk” with Feinstein after the hearings, which clearly had an impact.
“I look forward to continuing to serve as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules committees as we work with the Biden administration on priorities like gun safety, immigration reform and addressing inequities in criminal justice. I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the coming years.”
Illinois Sen. Dick Durban announced his intentions to replace Feinstein after she steps down.
“I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress,” said Durban, who has served on the Judiciary Committee for 22 years. “We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights.”