McConnell rejects Democratic plan to temporarily substitute Feinstein on Judiciary Committee

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t interested in helping Democrats temporarily replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee, which would end a stall on some of the Biden administration’s judicial nominees.

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, the GOP leader said there is no urgency to do so, however. He said Democrats instead want to “ram through” a small number of appointments to the federal bench.

“The supposed emergency is the Senate Democrats are unable to push through the small fraction of their nominees who are so extreme, so extreme and so unqualified, that they cannot win a single Republican vote in committee,” said McConnell, R-Ky..

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Feinstein absent from Senate

Feinstein, D-Calif., was hospitalized for shingles in March and has been on leave from the Senate while recovering at home. She has not provided an estimate of when she plans to return.

Since she’s been gone the judiciary panel has only approved one nominee.

Facing calls by progressive House Democrats to resign give their party’s slim 51-49 Senate majority, she had asked Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to finding a temporary substitute for her seat on the Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., leaves a classified briefing on China, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., leaves a classified briefing on China, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

“I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel,” Feinstein said in a statement last week. “In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco.”

Politics: House Dems Ro Khanna, Dean Phillips call on Sen. Dianne Feinstein to resign. Here’s why

More: Pelosi disputes calls for Sen. Feinstein to resign

But such a move requires 60 votes to hurdle a filibuster which means at least 10 Republican senators would have to agree.

Liberals pushing Biden on judges

Biden has made the federal bench a focal point of his tenure and has appointed judges faster than any president since John F. Kennedy.

The administration has also touted its diverse nominees, including the appointment of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black women on the Supreme Court.

But progressives remain vigilant given there are currently 100 judicial vacancies, according to a tracker by the Alliance for Justice, a left-leaning advocacy group. It counts a total of 38 nominees who are still awaiting votes in committee or the full Senate .

More: ‘Pick up the pace.’ Progressives urge Biden, Senate to move faster on confirming federal judges

McConnell, who returned to the Senate on Monday after suffering a concussion, described Feinstein as a “titanic figure” he respects.

He emphasized there are other bipartisan judicial nominees that the committee and full Senate could support, but made clear the GOP caucus won’t support a replacement.

“Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporary absent colleague off the committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees,” McConnell said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: McConnell rebuffs Democratic plan to temporarily replace Feinstein

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