Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released a new statement Thursday afternoon regarding her continued absence from the Senate as she battles health problems, saying that her departure has not slowed down Democrats’ ability to confirm judges to federal courts.
The statement from Feinstein, 89, comes as she has faced calls in recent weeks from Democrats and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley to resign while she continues to recover in California from a case of the shingles.
“The Senate continues to swiftly confirm highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary, including seven more judicial nominees who were confirmed this week. There has been no slowdown,” Feinstein said. “This includes the confirmation of Judge Wesley Hsu to the Central District of California. He will make an outstanding jurist and I’m proud to see him join the federal bench.”
“While the Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced eight strong nominees during my absence, I’m disappointed that Republicans on the committee are blocking a few from moving forward,” she continued. “I’m confident that when I return to the Senate, we will be able to move the remaining qualified nominees out of committee quickly and to the Senate floor for a vote.”
New statement from Feinstein doesn’t say when she will return to Washington but asserts “there has been no slowdown” in judicial confirmations while she’s been absent.
“I’m confident that when I return to the Senate, we will be able to move the remaining qualified nominees…” pic.twitter.com/9MsufAqtIk
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) May 4, 2023
Senate Republicans blocked a plan by Democrats last month to quickly replace Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sought unanimous consent for a resolution that would allow Ben Cardin, a Democrat who is the senior senator from Maryland, to take Feinstein’s place.
“She’s a dear friend and we hope for her speedy recovery and return back to the Senate. With all due respect, my colleague, Sen. Schumer, this is about a handful of judges that you can’t get the votes for,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, per CNN.
As Graham indicated, central to the debate are nominees to federal courts around the country. By mid-February, the Senate confirmed more than 100 judicial appointments, meaning that in two years, President Joe Biden was outpacing his immediate predecessors. Any effort to reshape the federal judiciary ran into a roadblock when Feinstein became a no-show on Capitol Hill.
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.