Senate Republicans won't support temporarily replacing Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Senate Republicans say they will not support replacing Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee. Last week, 89-year-old Feinstein asked to be temporarily replaced as she recovers from health issues. 

Democratic leaders in the Senate say they’re open to replacing her until she’s able to get back to Washington, but they’ll need Republican votes to do that. 

"I spoke to Senator Feinstein just a few days ago. She believes she’s going to return soon. She’s very hopeful of that and so am I," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is surrounded by reporters as she heads to the Senate Chamber for a vote in the U.S. Capitol on February 14, 2023 in Washington, DC. Feinstein announced Tuesday that she will not seek re-elec (Getty Images)

Feinstein has not been present to vote since the end of February as she’s been recovering in California after being diagnosed with shingles. Schumer says he also supports replacing Feinstein until she can return to the Senate. 

"She’s hopeful on returning soon. We think the Republicans should allow a temporary replacement until she returns," Schumer said.  

But on Monday, several Republican Senators said they won’t support replacing Feinstein.  

"I will not go along with Chuck Schumer’s plan to replace Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee and pack the court with activist judges," Blackburn tweeted. 

This comes after two members of Feinstein’s own party called for her to resign, including Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna. He says Feinstein's absence jeopardizes votes on key issues like abortion and confirming federal judges, a priority for the Biden administration. 

"My intent was not to make a splash. It was simply to say publicly what so many know privately and that is while Senator Feinstein has had an extraordinary, distinguished career, she's simply unable now to fulfill her duties," Khanna said. 

In order to replace Feinstein at least 10 Republicans would have to vote with Democrats, which is unlikely to happen. 

"Whenever one side needs something from the other, they always want something in return. So there’s no real impetus or incentive for Republicans to do anything for the Democrats," said John Dennis, San Francisco Republican Party Chair. "I would think if the shoe were on the other foot, the Democrats won’t do anything without something in return for the Republicans."

Dennis says despite the political grid lock in Washington, Feinstein’s well-respected career should be considered as decisions are made.

"It would be nice to see her wind down with some dignity and with some respect. I think she deserves that, and I think she’ll get it," Dennis said.  

If Feinstein were to resign, Gov. Gavin Newsom would have the opportunity to appoint her replacement. Newsom appointed Sen. Alex Padilla to the senate in 2021 after then-Senator Kamala Harris resigned from the senate to be inaugurated as the Vice President.