Oh, please don't stay by me, Dianne
The Democrats have a Senator Feinstein problem. To say the least, it's quite different from the one that inspired a young Paul Anka to write a song that went like this: "Oh, please stay by me, Diana." The Democrats are singing a different song because their "I'm so young and you're so old" love makes their 51-49 majority a bit lame.
How do you tell a loyal and elected Democrat to quit and go home so the party can move on? It's a problem, to say the least. This is a good point by Li Zhou:
Were Feinstein to resign voluntarily, California Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint a new person to serve out her term until 2025. Newsom has already pledged to nominate a Black woman for the Senate, and many have speculated that it could be Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who has already declared her candidacy for the role.
Manley notes that as Senate leader, Schumer may be one of the few people who could use his sway to speak with Feinstein. As the New York Times reported, however, Feinstein appeared determined to return to the Senate in recent calls the majority leader had with her while she was recovering from shingles. A Schumer spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding potential next steps from Democrats.
Beyond a voluntary resignation, the Senate also has the ability to expel members, though that's an exceedingly rare maneuver that hasn't been used since the Civil War. In the past, the Senate has only ever expelled 15 members, 14 of which were related to their decision to join the Confederacy.
A supermajority of senators would also have to vote to take this route, something that's not likely to happen given the support and deference that many Democrats continue to have for Feinstein, and the unprecedented nature of such an effort.
"She's got an enormous well of support in the caucus," says Manley. "Anyone who's paying attention sees that any attempt to shove her aside is doomed to failure."
Feinstein is known for being a groundbreaking lawmaker, and was first elected in the 1990s. She's been a champion for legislation like the Violence Against Women Act, a key voice for gun control, and a longtime defender of abortion rights. Given this history, some lawmakers might be reluctant to push her out. Although multiple lawmakers including Khanna and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have urged her resignation, other Democrats have been more circumspect in their comments.
What a mess. Do you agree? I saw Senator Lindsey Graham on TV and he avoided this like the plague. It's obvious that he respects the California senator and does not want to mess with Senate traditions.
Of course, the other problem is the senator from Pennsylvania, who keeps embarrassing himself every time he reads a statement. Add to this angry Senator Manchin and Senator Tester, who remembers every six years that he represents Montana, not San Francisco, and the majority may be a bit complicated.
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Image: Dianne Feinstein. Credit: Senate Democrats via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.