U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has asked to be temporarily replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee after calls for her resignation due to long-term health issues grew louder.
Feinstein has been away since her diagnosis with shingles in February.
She released a statement on the evening of April 12, clarifying her diagnosis and her planned return to Washington.
“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,” she wrote.
“I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel. In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco,” she added. “I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee, so I’ve asked Leader Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve until I’m able to resume my committee work.”
Earlier that day, a member of her own party, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) called for her resignation amid her months-long absence.
“It’s time for @SenFeinstein to resign. We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty,” Khanna wrote on Twitter hours before Feinstein’s statement. “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.”
Khanna provided additional statements to ABC News, telling the outlet, “We have a crisis in the judiciary with extremist judges stripping away women’s rights. You can’t preach on television about the danger of these judges and then sit silently as Senator Feinstein misses vote after vote to confirm pro-choice judges.”
Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, also joined calls for Feinstein’s resignation, calling it a “dereliction of duty” for her to remain in the senate and a “dereliction of duty” for people who remain quiet.
Former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hinted that officials urging Feinstein’s resignation were engaging in sexism.
“It’s interesting to me. I don’t know what political agendas are at work that are going after Sen. Feinstein in that way. I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way,” she told reporters.