On Tuesday, Senate Republicans reportedly prevented Democrats from swiftly replacing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The 89-year-old Feinstein has been holding up Democratic judicial nominees from being confirmed during her lengthly absence due to illness.
When Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked for unanimous support for a resolution that would allow Ben Cardin, a Democrat who is the senior senator from Maryland, to replace Feinstein, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) protested.
Graham pointed out that the nominations for federal judges around the nation are at the center of the discussion. President Joseph Biden had surpassed his immediate predecessors in terms of judicial nominations by the middle of February, when the Senate had approved more than 100 of them.
Any attempts to change the federal courts were thwarted when Feinstein withdrew from the judiciary panel on Capitol Hill, which reviews both executive and judicial appointments.
If Democrats push the matter, replacing Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee may result in a vote that needs the approval of 60 senators in the Senate, which is now very closely divided. At least ten Republicans must unite with Democrats and independents, but the situation currently doesn’t seem good.
Feinstein said at the beginning of March that she had been admitted to a hospital in San Francisco after being found to have shingles. Feinstein had stated her intention to return to the Senate by the end of the month, but when that didn’t materialize, several of her fellow Democrats, like Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), intensified their calls on Feinstein to resign.
However, Feinstein refused to back down and instead requested last week that Schumer fill her position on the Judiciary Committee while she recovers.
Feinstein’s absence prevents the panel, which is split 10-10 along party lines without her, from advancing Biden’s candidates to federal courts around the country, according to Judiciary Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL), who recently acknowledged as much.