At least two Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have called on Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to resign from her seat, amid growing concerns about her age and mental capacity.
As The Hill reports, two representatives publicly declared on Wednesday that the 89-year-old senior senator from California should resign ahead of her scheduled retirement in January of 2025.
Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted that “it’s time for @SenFeinstein to resign. We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.”
Later the same day, Congressman Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) voiced a similar sentiment on Twitter: “I agree with @RoKhanna. Senator 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.”
On top of her advanced age, which makes Feinstein the oldest currently-serving senator, the California Democrat has been absent from the Senate as she recovers from shingles. With the Democrats holding a narrow 51-seat majority in the Senate, Feinstein’s absence has made it much more difficult for the upper chamber to confirm some of Joe Biden’s judicial and executive branch nominees, especially with Feinstein holding a seat on the crucial Senate Judiciary Committee.
Feinstein has not given an estimated timeframe for her return to Washington, saying in a statement that “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.”
“I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel,” Feinstein added. “In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco.”
Even prior to her medical absence, Feinstein’s cognitive abilities have been called into question. In mid-February, shortly after her official Twitter account declared that Feinstein would not run for re-election to a sixth term next November, Feinstein herself seemed to be unaware of the statement’s release when asked by reporters in-person. Around the same time, a seemingly oblivious Feinstein left the Senate chamber after a series of votes and could be heard asking a staffer “Did I vote for that?”
Following Feinstein’s retirement announcement, three prominent Democrats have announced their campaigns to succeed her in the Senate in 2024: Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-Calif.), and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). The seat is expected to stay safely in Democrat hands, although the Democratic primary is expected to be highly competitive.
If Feinstein were to resign early, Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) would be able to appoint a successor to serve in the interim until January of 2025, who could then run for re-election in 2024 in their own right. Feinstein was first elected in a special election in 1992, then was elected to serve her first full term in 1994; she has been re-elected four more times since then.