Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to temporarily replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the Judiciary Committee during her lengthy absence from the upper chamber due to a bout with shingles.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday requested unanimous consent to make the move, having told reporters earlier in the day that he was going to do so.
Unsurprisingly, it was blocked by Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
“This is about a handful of judges that you can’t get the votes for,” Graham said. “I want to process judges fairly, but the reason this is being made is to try to change the numbers on the committee in a way that I think would be harmful to the Senate, and to pass out a handful of judges that I think should never be on the bench.”
Schumer said that he was making the move in order to honor Feinstein’s wishes until she returns to the Capitol.
“When someone as dear and accomplished as Sen. Feinstein requests something so important to her, we ought to respect it,” Schumer said.
Feinstein, 89, has been absent from the Capitol since late February. The only other legislative avenue Democrats have to replace her on the key panel is to convince 10 Senate Republicans to break a filibuster.
However, Senate GOP members have almost unanimously said that they will not be party to ousting Feinstein from the post for reasons ranging from their desire to block “unqualified” judges from being voted out of committee to their support for the longtime California Democrat.
Schumer said earlier on Tuesday that he would temporarily fill Feinstein’s spot on the panel with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). That did little to dissuade Republicans.
“I like Ben. He’s a reasonable guy. But it’s not going to happen,” Sen. John Cornyn said.