Democrats have made their bed and, as far as Senate Republicans are concerned, they get to sleep in it as efforts to “temporarily” replace California’s absentee Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) were met with haughty derision.
“I don’t think you’ll see us help in that effort,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R).
Since late February, the 89-year-old Feinstein has been laid up with a case of shingles leaving her incapable of performing her duties, not only as a member of Congress, but more specifically where it concerns her spot on the now deadlocked Senate Judiciary Committee.
For the 118th Congress, Senate Democrats boast a razor-thin majority of 51-49 with 11 members seated on the Judiciary Committee to the Republicans 10. As a result, advancing markups or judicial nominees has been held at a standstill for any measure that would not gain support from the right.
Despite the spin from Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who told reporters Feinstein “asked to be replaced,” adding “The rain can fall on both sides of the road, and Republicans ought to think a little bit about what this means,” GOP members understood full well the slim edge her absence allowed them in holding back President Joe Biden’s progressive agenda.
Speaking with NBC News, Cornyn said, “These are, by definition, the most controversial nominees. And if Democrats are depending strictly on their own party-line vote to get them out of committee — I don’t think there’s any appetite on our side to help what we consider to be controversial or unqualified nominees to get confirmed.”
“I, for one, am not going to help President Biden’s most unqualified nominees to get confirmed,” he had said, according to The Hill. “I don’t think you’ll see us help in that effort.”
The outlet confirmed at least five minority members of the Judiciary Committee were opposed to even a temporary swap, including Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Kennedy (La.), Cornyn and Thom Tillis, who tweeted his own statement.
“I will vote against any attempt by Senate Democrats to temporarily replace Sen. Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee,” he wrote. “I deeply respect Senator Feinstein, but this is an unprecedented request solely intended to appease those pushing for radical, activist judges. This is especially concerning as Senate Democrats seek to end the bipartisan blue slip process so they can bypass advice and consent with home state senators and ram through left-wing judges.”
I will vote against any attempt by Senate Democrats to temporarily replace Sen. Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee. I deeply respect Senator Feinstein, but this is an unprecedented request solely intended to appease those pushing for radical, activist judges. This is especially…
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) April 17, 2023
As it stands, it would take 10 Republicans crossing the aisle to surpass the 60-vote threshold for the change and the most flagrant RINOs, including Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) had already abandoned that prospect.
“Sen. Feinstein has been an extraordinary senator and she’s a good friend of mine,” Collins said. “During the last two years, there’s been a concerted campaign to force her off the judiciary committee, and I will have no part of that.”
Likewise, Romney talked tough when he told reporters, “They’d like Republicans to help them speed the appointment of more liberal justices? Yes — when hell freezes over.”
Meanwhile, as Senate Democrats have suggested the temporary tag-in for the committee, House Democrats, some with eyes on replacing the retiring Feinstein, have called for her to step down immediately.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who has backed Rep. Barbara Lee’s bid to take the seat following the 2024 election has remained adamant that “She’s unable to fulfill her duties. And I guess I don’t know any other job where, if you’re unable to fulfill your duties, you can continue to have the position. So, I think she should do the dignified thing. I respect her years of public service and she should know when it’s time to step aside.”
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