Republicans to block Feinstein substitute on Senate Judiciary – McConnell
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) moves through the Senate subway during a vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans will block Democrats’ plans to temporarily replace Senator Dianne Feinstein on the committee that approves federal judges, the chamber’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, said on Tuesday.
That would make it harder for Democrats to confirm President Joe Biden’s appointments to the federal judiciary until Feinstein, 89, returns to the Capitol after having been sidelined by a bout of shingles since early March.
“Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporarily absent colleague off a committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees,” McConnell, himself just returned from a five-week-long medical absence, said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Feinstein on Wednesday said she would temporarily step down from her spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee while she recovers at her home in San Francisco.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said he would ask the chamber this week to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve on the Judiciary Committee while she recuperates.
Any replacement would need Republican support for approval, something McConnell said would not materialize.
Feinstein’s absence reduces Democrats’ narrow majority in the chamber by one to 50-49. Fellow Senate Democrat Amy Klobuchar on Sunday warned that Democrats could need that vote on critical issues like the debt ceiling.
Feinstein’s absence prevents her from voting in the Senate, where she has not cast a vote since mid-February.
The trail-blazing California lawmaker faces continued calls from some fellow Democrats to resign her seat due to health problems.