Calls mount for Feinstein to step down, Schumer 'hopeful' she returns next week

In a new interview, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’s been inundated with people pitching themselves to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein. 

Pressure is mounting for the California Democrat to step down as she continues to miss votes during an extended absence while recovering from shingles. 

Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed confidence when asked about Feinstein. 

"I talked to Senator Feinstein a few days ago and hoping she can come back next week," Schumer told reporters during a news conference.

The timeline is less clear from Feinstein’s camp. 

Her office released this statement: "Senator Feinstein continues to make progress in her recovery; however, we don’t have a timeline yet for her return to Washington which is dependent on her medical team saying it is safe to travel."

Political analysts say the pressure isn’t going anywhere. 

"Those calls and that pressure is going to heat up, and it’s going to put those supporters in a real difficult position," said David McCuan, Sonoma State political science professor. "She not only sits on judiciary, she sits on these three other committees, that are also hugely important."

Feinstein also sits on the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Appropriations and Rules and Administration. Her absence leaves Democrats a vote short of a majority in the Judiciary, complicating efforts to confirm President Biden’s picks for judges. 

This has led to calls from her own party to resign, including from progressive representatives Ro Khanna, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and now Ayanna Pressley. Calls have also come from the right. 


Rep. Ro Khanna calls for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's resignation

A Bay Area Congressman is calling for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's resignation, citing her inability to meet the demands of her job.

"If you are 89 years old, if you are unable to do your job, if you are unable to function, it’s in the best interest of your constituents and the country, you step down," said Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the UN and Republican candidate for president.

Other lawmakers, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), have come to Feinstein’s defense. 

"I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate that way," Pelosi told reporters last month.

Political analysts expect Republican candidates to continue to harp on issues of age as we move closer to the presidential election. This comes when Democrat representatives Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff and Katie Porter race to replace her in 2024.  

We asked all three about the ongoing calls for her to resign: Lee and Schiff said they’re focused on her recovery and return. Porter did not respond.

If Feinstein does step down before the end of her term, Newsom faces the difficult decision of having to appoint someone to the post. 

"The hard part is, the race really isn’t that far away, the primary is early next year," Newsom said. "So now it’s a very different place, it’s not an academic place. If she does resign, I hope she doesn’t, that’s a more difficult question."

Newsom previously committed to appointing a Black woman to an open senate seat. He has not endorsed or weighed in on the race to replace Feinstein.