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Republicans block motion to replace Feinstein on judiciary panel

Senate Republicans have blocked a motion to temporarily replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the judiciary committee as the 89-year-old Californian recovers from shingles. File photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Senate Republicans have blocked a motion to temporarily replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the judiciary committee as the 89-year-old Californian recovers from shingles. File photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

April 18 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans have blocked a request to temporarily replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the judiciary committee as the 89-year-old Californian recovers from shingles.

Republicans formally blocked the motion Tuesday, to replace the ailing Democratic lawmaker, after it was introduced by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer.

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"Today, I am acting not just as a leader, but as Dianne's friend, in honoring her wishes until she returns to the Senate," Schumer, D-N.Y., said, referring to Feinstein's request last week for a committee replacement to advance judicial nominees.

The motion, which would replace Feinstein with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., was met with opposition from the top Republican on the judiciary committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

"She's a dear friend and we hope for her speedy recovery and return back to the Senate. With all due respect, my colleague, Sen. Schumer, this is about a handful of judges that you can't get the votes for," Graham, R-S.C., said.

When Feinstein is present, the Democrats hold a one-vote majority of the Senate judiciary committee.

Feinstein, who is the oldest lawmaker in the Senate, has been recovering in California since the February recess when she was diagnosed with shingles. Shortly before her illness, Feinstein announced she would not seek re-election next year.

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Following calls for her resignation last week, Feinstein asked the Senate for a temporary judiciary replacement.

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

"I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it's safe for me to travel," she added Thursday, without addressing calls from both parties that she resign.

"We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty," Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., tweeted Wednesday.

"While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties," he said. "Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people."

"Sen. Feinstein is a remarkable American whose contributions to our country are immeasurable. But, I believe it's now a dereliction of duty to remain in the Senate and a dereliction of duty for those who agree to remain quiet," said Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn.

Democrats would need 60 votes to replace Feinstein on the committee, as more than 12 judicial nominees hang in the balance. But Republicans say they are not willing to provide the votes.

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"I support having Sen. Feinstein come back as soon as she can," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told CNN. "But this effort to confirm controversial and in many instances largely unqualified nominees, I don't think you can expect any Republican cooperation."

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