Dianne Feinstein expected to step down from Senate Judiciary Committee
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to step down in the next Congressional session following stark criticism from progressive lawmakers due to her handling of U.S Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's nomination hearings.
Multiple people close to the situation confirmed Feinstein's plans to Politico, and she later released a statement confirming her intent. Although she will be stepping away from the judiciary committee, she did note that she will be working with the Biden administration and will continue to serve on other committees.
"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 California 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."
The California Democrat also noted that she will be focusing her efforts on combatting the coronavirus pandemic.
Feinstein's decision comes amid heightened scrutiny over the Barrett hearings. Several liberal groups suggested she step down after the hearings. Now, they are applauding her for her decision. Brian Fallon, executive director of the group Demand Justice, called it "a necessary step if Democrats are ever going to meaningfully confront the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have done to the federal judiciary."
"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," Fallon said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also revealed he had a "long and serious" talk with the California Democrat prior to her decision to step down.
The top-ranking Senate Democrat said he was "deeply grateful" for Feinstein and her leadership.
"I know Senator Feinstein will continue her work as one of the nation's leading advocates for women's and voting rights, gun safety reform, civil liberties, health care, and the rights of immigrants who are yearning to become citizens of this great country," Schumer said.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has announced his interest in the judiciary committee post.
"I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress," Durbin said. "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."
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