Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that her absence from the Senate is not slowing down the workings of the chamber. Don’t fall for it.
Feinstein hasn’t been in the Senate for more than eight weeks due to complications from shingles. Her last vote was in mid-February. Since then, her absence has put many key votes, including judicial confirmations, on hold. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would grant her request to let another Democratic senator temporarily serve in her place on the Judiciary Committee, but Republicans quickly poured cold water on that idea.
In a statement, Feinstein pushed back on the idea that her absence is causing issues. “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,” she said.
“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,” she said, while refusing to specify when she would actually return.
Although Feinstein may say that her absence isn’t a problem, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite what she said, there is still a backlog of judicial nominees who need to be confirmed—something that is becoming ever more crucial as more human rights battles play out in courts across the country. Just last week, Senate Republicans were able to pass a resolution nullifying an Environmental Protection Agency rule that seeks to reduce toxic air pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.
Feinstein announced in February that she would not run for reelection. She has had a long and storied career, but it has been sullied in recent years by reports that she is no longer mentally capable of serving. Calls for her to step down have begun to grow louder, as her congressional colleagues urge her to put the country first.