Embattled San Francisco Senator Dianne Feinstein has announced she plans to temporarily relinquish her duties to another Democrat after two of her fellow party members demanded she resign.
Feinstein, 89, made the declaration in a statement Wednesday, roughly two hours after Rep. Ro Khanna, also of California, and Rep. Dean Phillips took to social media to call for her to step down due to an ongoing, two-month medical absence.
The consecutive calls for the elderly stateswoman’s resignation – both from fellow Democrats – underscored rising concern over her prolonged leave, which has held up her party’s ability to confirm federal judges.
Stricken with shingles, Feinstein on Wednesday said she has asked Senate Leader Chuck Schumer ‘to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve’ on the judiciary panel ‘until I’m able to resume my committee work.’
The state senator, however, did not provide a timeline for the unapproved arrangement, only saying that she will head back to Capitol when her medical team says it is safe for her to travel.
San Francisco Senator Dianne Feinstein has announced she plans to temporarily relinquish her duties to another Democrat after two of her fellow party members asked she resign
Stricken with shingles, Feinstein on Wednesday issues this official statement revealing she has asked Senate Leader Chuck Schumer ‘to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve’ on the judiciary panel ‘until I’m able to resume my committee work’
‘When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period,’ wrote Feinstein in the official statement.
‘Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis.’
She added: ‘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.’
The former San Francisco mayor proceeded to briefly address the primary controversy surrounding her sabbatical – how it has stalled the confirmation of President Biden’s judicial appointments, due to her seat on the Judiciary Committee.
Democrats have held only 49 voting members in the Senate – and with the absence of another state senator, recently elected Pennsylvania rep John Fetterman, Feinstein’s vote is particularly pivotal.
Fetterman, who was hospitalized for clinical depression, is expected to return to the Senate next week – nearly two months after taking his own leave.
‘I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee,’ she wrote in the the statement’s final paragraph.
‘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.’
The official correspondence then finishes abruptly, without any form of signoff or sense of gratitude for her colleagues putting up with her prolonged absence.
Hours earlier, in a somewhat unprecedented move indicative of the outlandish situation, two house democrats demanded Feinstein resign after 31 years of representing San Francisco in Washington.
Feinstein, 89, made the declaration roughly two hours after Rep. Ro Khanna (left), also of California, and Rep. Dean Phillips took to social media to demand she step down due to an ongoing, two-month medical absence
‘It’s time for @SenFeinstein to resign,’ the 46-year-old Democrat wrote in a post to Twitter that has already been read nearly 2million times
He chimed in to say that he agrees with Khanna, but also commended Feinstein for her years of service – not only as a senator, but as San Francisco’s first female male in the late 70s
Rep. Khanna, who represents nearby Bay Area city Santa Clara, was the first to publicly call for the longtime Senate fixture, who previously aired plans to retire at the end of her term in 2024.
‘It’s time for @SenFeinstein to resign,’ the 46-year-old Democrat wrote in a post to Twitter that has already been read nearly 2million times.
‘We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty,’ Khanna continued. ‘While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties.’
He added that ‘not speaking out undermines our [House members’] credibility as elected representatives.’
The post, published Wednesday at 5:19pm, already has more than 17,500 likes and thousands of retweets.
One of those retweets, coming just over a half hour later, belonged to Khanna and Feinstein’s Capitol Hill colleague Dean Phillips, of Minnesota.
He chimed in to say that he agrees with Khanna, but also commended Feinstein for her years of service – not only as a senator, but as San Francisco’s first female male in the late 70s.
‘Senator Feinstein is a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable,’ Phillips tweeted. ‘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.’
Feinstein was first elected to the senate in 1992. She’s pictured as Mayor of San Francisco – the city’s first woman – in 1978
Feinstein – whose political career spans more than half a century – is facing criticism from a number of Democrats, who fear she ‘mentally unfit to serve’ and her memory is ‘deteriorating’
She was hospitalized for shingles in February and released last month, but has not returned to the Senate, missing 60 of the last 82 votes. She is seen here at the US Capitol in February
Both posts have since gone viral, and likely played a part in the Senate stalwart’s decision to issue a statement later that day.
It comes Feinstein – whose political career spans more than half a century – has faced criticism from a number of Democrats, though none until now made it a point to publicly demand her resignation.
Four U.S. senators, including three Democrats as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress, recently told The Chronicle they fear she ‘mentally unfit to serve’ and that her memory is ‘rapidly deteriorating.’
‘It’s bad, and it’s getting worse,’ said one Democratic senator. Speaking under condition of anonymity, the rep added that Feinstein has difficulty keeping up with conversations and discussions.
‘There’s a joke on the Hill, we’ve got a great junior senator in Alex Padilla and an experienced staff in Feinstein’s office,’ said another staffer for a California Democrat, about how most of the work in Feinstein’s office now falls on her staff – and has for years.
All of those who spoke to the paper agreed on one thing – that Feinstein no longer can fulfill her job duties, and that by staying in her position, she is doing a disservice to the roughly 40 million people she represents.
In a statement to The Chronicle on two weeks ago, Feinstein – whose husband of 542 years Richard Blum died last year – asserted that she is still performing her duties as a senator, but declined to be interviewed.
‘The last year has been extremely painful and distracting for me, flying back and forth to visit my dying husband who passed just a few weeks ago,’ she said.
‘But there’s no question I’m still serving and delivering for the people of California, and I’ll put my record up against anyone’s.’
Feinstein (D-Calif.) was hospitalized for shingles in February and released last month, but has not returned to the Senate, missing 60 of the last 82 votes.
Feinstein is also facing criticism from a number of Democrats, who fear she ‘mentally unfit to serve’ and that her memory is ‘rapidly deteriorating.’
Feinstein confirmed in February that she will not seek reelection in 2024, but it is widely speculated that she will resign early before her term ends.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has already announced that he will run to replace Feinstein’s seat in the Senate. He has raised over $6.5 million since entering the race in January.
Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee have also announced that they are running for the seat.
A GOP challenger, GOP attorney Eric Early, threw hit his hat in the race Tuesday, officially launching his bid in a new campaign video.
Early, who unsuccessfully ran against Schiff in 2020, said in the video that he will campaign on combatting the fentanyl and border crisis and champion parents’ rights.
‘Eric will stand-up to the Socialist woke interests that control Washington, DC, fight to preserve and protect our Democracy, and fight for ordinary Californians who are being left behind,’ his campaign website states.
He claims the other Democrats running for Feinstein’s seat have messy politics that are harmful to Californians.
‘Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee have been in Congress for a combined 51 years. Judge them by the results of their actions and their votes — they put us in this mess,’ he says.
He is the first major Republican to announce his intention to run for the seat, but faces a strong headwinds in the strongly blue state.
Feinstein is the longest-serving female lawmaker in Senate history.
The senator has largely avoided public events since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and after her husband passed away in February 2022.
Schumer has yet to announce whether he and the House will accept her alleged proposal.