Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) called on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to step down on Friday, joining a small group of House Democrats who are urging the six-term Senate stalwart to resign due to her prolonged absence.
In a tweet on Friday, Tlaib voiced concerns that Senate Republicans have been able to push through legislation while Feinstein remains sidelined while recovering from shingles, and that the chamber has not been able to confirm partisan judges with her out of the Capitol.
“Because Sen. Feinstein was absent, Republicans are passing legislation through the Senate, undermining the right of our residents to breathe clean air. And with a far-right judiciary targeting our human rights, we are unable to confirm judges. Sen. Feinstein must step down,” Tlaib said.
The call came two days after the Senate approved a resolution that seeks to undo a Biden administration rule that is aimed at cutting pollution from heavy-duty trucks. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined all Republicans in supporting the measure, allowing it to clear the chamber. Had Feinstein been present, she likely would have opposed the measure, allowing Vice President Harris to issue a tie-breaking vote to defeat the effort.
Feinstein, 89, announced in March she had been hospitalized after being diagnosed with shingles the month before. She was released days later, but she has not returned to the Capitol. This month, she said her return has been delayed because of “continued complications related to my diagnosis.”
The senator’s absence has left Democrats down one person, chipping away at their 51-49 seat majority, and it has left the Senate Judiciary Committee evenly split, making Democrats unable to advance partisan nominees to the full chamber for votes.
Tlaib is the third House Democrat to publicly call for Feinstein to step down. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) was first, followed shortly after by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.). Khanna re-upped his call on Thursday after the Senate passed the resolution pertaining to the Biden administration rule, blaming Feinstein for the measure being approved.
A number of other Democrats, however, have stood by Feinstein, arguing the longtime senator should be able to determine when to end her career. In February, she said she would not seek reelection in 2024, putting an expiration date on her 30-plus-year tenure in the chamber.
Shortly after Khanna and Phillips called for Feinstein’s resignation, the senator asked that she be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee while she remained out of Washington. Senate Republicans, however, blocked the effort.
On April 12, the same day Khanna and Phillips called for her resignation, Feinstein said “I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel.”
“In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco,” she added in a statement.
A competitive race is currently underway to replace Feinstein upon her planned retirement at the end of 2024, with Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) vying for the seat.
Khanna passed on his bid and is serving as co-chair of Lee’s campaign. California Gov. Gavin Newson (D) has pledged to name a Black woman as Feinstein’s replacement if she were to retire early.