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Dianne Feinstein Steps Down as Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chair

Dianne Feinstein Steps Down as Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chair

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced on Monday that she will be resigning as the Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“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,” Feinstein 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 on priorities like gun safety, immigration reform and addressing inequities in criminal justice,” she added. “I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the coming years.”

Photo by Hannah McKay-Pool/Getty Images

Feinstein came under heavy fire from progressives last month after she inexplicably embraced and praised Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), the Republican co-chair of the Committee, for his handling of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and subsequent confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.

“I just want to thank you. This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in,” Feinstein said to Graham after Barrett was confirmed on October 15. “Thank you so much for your leadership.”

A few days later, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that he “had a long and serious talk with Sen. Feinstein. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now.”

But on Monday, Schumer said that Feinstein is still a valued member of the Democratic caucus who will play a vital role in carrying out President-Elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

“Senator Feinstein’s experience, decades-long relationship with President-Elect Biden, and leadership on so many issues will continue to be an asset for our caucus, California, and the country as we begin a new term with the new president,” he said.

The second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin (IL), said Monday that he would like to replace Feinstein as the Democratic chair of the Judiciary Committee. Durbin has served as a member of the Committee for 22 years.

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“For the last four years, Republicans leading the Senate Judiciary Committee have turned a blind eye to the worst abuses of the Trump era,” Durbin said in a statement. “While President Trump assaulted the Constitution, the Judiciary Committee abdicated its oversight responsibilities and became little more than a conveyor belt to rubberstamp ideological and largely underqualified judicial nominees. The to-do list for the Senate Judiciary Committee is long, and of critical importance to the future progress of our country.”

Control of the chamber hinges on which party wins the two Georgia Senate runoff elections in early January. Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff are gunning to unseat incumbent Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively. Currently, momentum is in the Democrats’ favor, thanks to Biden’s upset victory over President Donald Trump in Georgia in the presidential election.

The last time Georgia went blue was in 1992 for Democrat Bill Clinton.

Fifty-seven days until the inauguration.

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