The White House on Tuesday called Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) request for a temporary replacement on the Judiciary Committee “reasonable” and pushed back on Republicans using her lengthy absence as she recovers from shingles for political purposes.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered her first comments since Feinstein issued a statement last week requesting that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) appoint another Democrat to serve on the Judiciary Committee, where her absence has stalled several Biden administration judicial nominees.
“When you think about what Democrats are doing, or what their request is, this is a request that we think that is reasonable,” Jean-Pierre said. “This is something that Sen. Feinstein asked for. This is her request.”
“And it is flat wrong to seek partisan advantage from health issues of a colleague,” Jean-Pierre continued. “The American people reject that type of scorched-earth type of behavior, approach to governing. Again, this is something that she put forward. And this was her request.”
Feinstein, who is 89, has been absent since late February due to a case of shingles, leaving the Judiciary panel deadlocked 10-10 and unable to pass partisan nominees along for floor votes.
The six-term senator last week asked Schumer to replace her on the panel, which has had to cancel three markups in her absence. Her request came shortly after Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) called for her to resign — a call Senate Democrats have yet to repeat.
But replacing her on the panel while she remains a member of the Senate would require a vote of the full chamber.
At least five Republicans on the Judiciary Committee — Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Kennedy (La.) and John Cornyn (Texas) — all said they would oppose the effort to replace the longtime California Democrat or saw no reason to remove her.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have also voiced skepticism about the effort, saying Feinstein has had a distinguished career and should not be forced off the judiciary panel.