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Feinstein to step aside as top Democrat on Senate Judiciary Committee

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced on Monday that she would step down from the top Democratic spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, following sharp criticism from liberal activists over her handling of the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Posted: Nov 24, 2020 8:55 AM

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced on Monday that she would step down from the top Democratic spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, following sharp criticism from liberal activists over her handling of the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Feinstein, 87, said she would "increase" her "attention" on the wildfire and drought crisis in California and that three issues -- the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and "access to health care" -- are "critical national priorities that require even more concentration."

Her statement did not mention Barrett's confirmation to replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which further cemented the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

While Democratic senators could not block Barrett's nomination in the Republican-led Senate on their own, liberal activists were apoplectic when Feinstein undermined Democrats' relentless attempt to portray the process as illegitimate when she praised Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham's leadership of it.

Democrats including Feinstein had blasted Senate Republicans for rushing to confirm the nominee in the month before Election Day, after blocking President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 because it was an election year. But after four days of hearings in October, Feinstein told the South Carolina Republican that "this is one of the best set of hearings that I've participated in," and hugged him.

Liberal activists from groups like Demand Justice and NARAL Pro-Choice America quickly urged Feinstein to step down, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he had a "long and serious talk" with her. Last month, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, lauded Feinstein's opening statement and questions during the hearings on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," but characterized Feinstein's final comment to Graham as "misleading."

Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon said on Monday that Feinstein made the right move.

"Going forward, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee must be led by someone who will not wishfully cling to a bygone era of civility and decorum that Republicans abandoned long ago," said Fallon. "The next top Democrat on the committee must be someone who is willing to fight for President-elect Biden's nominees no matter what, and who will pursue bold action to restore balance to our courts."

Feinstein said she will continue to serve as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules panels, working on priorities like gun safety, criminal justice and immigration.

"I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the coming years," she said.

Schumer commended Feinstein "as one of the nation's leading advocates for women's and voting rights, gun safety reform, civil liberties, health care, and the rights of immigrants who are yearning to become citizens of this great country."

"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 added.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3074812

Reported Deaths: 35060
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles103873814416
San Bernardino2569141560
Riverside2510002676
San Diego2185552174
Orange2165092508
Santa Clara949051129
Kern87240572
Fresno83200968
Sacramento811831128
Alameda68649788
Ventura62774462
San Joaquin58843788
Contra Costa53349460
Stanislaus43121766
Tulare42186515
Monterey36464255
San Mateo32887309
San Francisco29502266
Solano25983107
Santa Barbara25405243
Imperial25333474
Merced24570316
Sonoma24184242
Kings19588148
Placer17490184
San Luis Obispo16056140
Madera13528151
Santa Cruz12461113
Marin11732159
Yolo10789138
Shasta9750123
Butte9528128
El Dorado788649
Sutter782879
Napa767244
Lassen519916
San Benito500346
Yuba499627
Tehama433244
Tuolumne340340
Nevada323474
Mendocino319232
Amador302431
Lake262531
Humboldt242725
Glenn194820
Colusa17969
Calaveras162123
Siskiyou145713
Mono11244
Inyo98329
Del Norte8672
Plumas5895
Modoc3853
Mariposa3464
Trinity3044
Sierra820
Alpine730
Unassigned00
Chico
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 57°
Oroville
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 57°
Chico
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 57°
Red Bluff
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 41°
Red Bluff
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Chico
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 57°
Thursday was the last fairly quiet weather day that we'll have in northern California as a series of storms will move our way through next week. Our first chance for rain and snow showers arrives Friday morning with a cold front.
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