Partisan mistrust still festers in Washington after Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s absence


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Democrats believe that if Feinstein were to leave the Capitol, the Republicans would have the power to choose a new senator to fill her seat, which they would not be able to do because she would not be able to serve two full terms.

The deep partisan distrust that permeates the U.S. Senate and threatens to undermine an essential piece of President Biden’s agenda has caused Democrats to question the assurances from Republicans that, should Feinstein, 89, leave office before her term ends in early 2025. The lack of confidence in Republicans — particularly when she was still absent stem from 2016, when then-Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked consideration of President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Democrats believe that if Feinstein were to leave the Capitol, the Republicans would have the power to choose a new

But Newsom’s promise to appoint a Black woman if either of California’s U.S. Senate seats opened up — a calculus made more difficult because the field vying to replace Feinstein when her current term ends includes just one formidable Black woman candidate: Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland.

If Feinstein were to step down, Newsom’s appointee wouldn’t automatically be placed on the committees where she serves — which would mean that the Judiciary Committee would have 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

In the event of sudden Senate vacancy, a vote to add a senator to a committee would be routine. As opposed to the move to temporarily switch her out this spring, some senior Republicans insist there’s ample precedent for permanently replacing her on committees and suggested such a move wouldn’t be controversial.

Senate historian emeritus Donald Ritchie said Feinstein’s absence was far from the longest and her infirmities while still in office were far from the most severe in the chamber’s history. It’s a body that through the years has had a number old and sick members who needed to be accommodated.

There was, he said, Virginia Sen. Carter Glass, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee in the 1940s, who didn’t show up to work for four years after becoming incapacitated with heart trouble.

Then there was California Sen. Clair Engel, who had to be wheeled onto the Senate floor in 1964 to break an epic filibuster of the Civil Rights Act. Stranded with a brain tumor, Engel couldn’t speak, so instead of “aye” he pointed to his eye to signify his vote and cement the landmark legislation’s passage. He died six weeks later.

Ritchie said members are aware of that history, and in the past senators have always been very cooperative about their colleagues’ health and replacing them if they were unable to serve out a term. This collegiality stemmed in part from the belief among senators that “this could happen to me too,” he said. McGovern, for example, was replaced by Newsom as head of the Board of Equalization in the early 1990s.

But Newsom’s promise to appoint a Black woman if either of California’s U.S. Senate seats opened up — a calculus made more difficult because missed about a month of work this year after a fall resulted in a concussion and some broken ribs.

But now “the Judiciary is the Senate’s most polarized committee,” he said. “It not clear someone else could get on the committee if Feinstein couldn’t serve. Partisanship keeps that from happening. It’s too bad. The institution suffers from that level of political partisanship.”

Throughout her absence and in the first weeks she was back, Democrats mostly refrained from speculating about Feinstein’s future in the Senate. Many said it was up to her to decide if she was fit to serve or not — while reiterated how important it was for her to be in the Capitol to cast crucial votes in the party’s favor.

Then late last month, former Sen. Hillary Clinton opened up the conversation in an interview with Time magazine.

“Here’s the dilemma: The Republicans will not agree to add someone else to the Judiciary Committee if she retires,” she said, partially because of the hyperventilating of the Democrats.

“I don’t know in her heart about whether she really would or wouldn’t [resign],” Jennings said. “If we’re going to get judges confirmed, which is one of the most important continuing obligations that we have, then we cannot afford to have her seat vacant.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who serves on the Judiciary Committee, said if Feinstein resigned he “would be in the camp of following the precedent of the Senate, replacing the person, consistent with what we have done in the past.”

In a recent interview, Graham told The Times he respected the Senate’s traditions and wouldn’t want to see them undermined in this moment. He added he thought this scenario was far different than Garland’s nominative case study.

“If she were to retire, I would be of the belief that”We’ve seen Republicans break all sorts of traditions.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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