Resignation Demands Mount After Feinstein Misses Dozens Of Votes

Concerns about President Joe Biden’s advanced age have dogged him since before the 2020 election, but he is not the only elected official facing serious questions about his ability to serve.

The oldest sitting U.S. senator, 89-year-old Dianne Feinstein of California, has been absent for weeks after her hospitalization in March due to shingles.

She has long faced speculation regarding signs of cognitive decline, but her inability to vote on the Senate floor has left Democrats concerned about the status of their slim majority in the chamber. Furthermore, the Senate Judiciary Committee has been deadlocked in her absence.

In response, calls for her resignation have increased in recent days — including from at least a few fellow Democrats.

While stopping short of recommending that she step down entirely, U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) — who is widely considered a top candidate to replace Feinstein — supported removing her from the judiciary committee so that matters put before the panel for a vote can progress.

“Well, I think the solution on the judge’s portion is to have her removed from her committee if she’s not able to do her service,” Porter said. “And I think that’s something she can talk about with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. I think they’ll chart a path together. But of course I wish Sen. Feinstein well.”

In a statement on Wednesday, the senator confirmed that she would temporarily step down from the committee until she is able to return to Capitol Hill.

“When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period,” she said. “Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis.”

A growing number of Democrats now believe that she should no longer be serving in the Senate.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) applauded Feinstein’s “lifetime of public service,” he tweeted this week that “it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties.”

Arguing that his party must “put the country ahead of personal loyalty,” he concluded: “Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.”

For his part, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) dutifully celebrated Feinstein as “a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable,” but determined that “it’s now a dereliction of duty to remain in the Senate and a dereliction of duty for those who agree to remain silent.”