California Sen. Dianne Feinstein plans to step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after criticism of her handling of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, Politico reports.
“After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress,” the 87-year-old Democrat said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to serve as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules committees as we work with the Biden administration.”
Feinstein said she planned to focus her attention on climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.
Feinstein was slammed over ACB hearing:
The move comes after she was criticized by progressive groups for not being more aggressive in Barrett’s confirmation hearing and later hugging Republican Chairman Lindsey Graham after the proceedings.
"This was a necessary step if Democrats are ever going to meaningfully confront the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have done to the federal judiciary," Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, said after the announcement. "Going forward, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee must be led by someone who will not wishfully cling to a bygone era of civility and decorum that Republicans abandoned long ago."
Durbin, Whitehouse vie for job:
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse are the next in line behind Feinstein.
"I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress," Durbin said Monday. "We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights."
It’s unclear whether Whitehouse will challenge him.