GOP Won’t Allow Easy Feinstein Swap, Forcing Schumer to Find 60 Votes



  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein has asked to be replaced on the Judiciary Committee while she’s out sick.
  • Several Republicans on the committee have said they won’t go along with a simple swap.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer otherwise needs 60 votes to reorganize everything.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and several Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said they’re not on board with allowing a temporary replacement for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein while she recovers from a nagging illness, quashing any hopes of speeding along a swap without running up against the filibuster rules.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was out for several weeks after suffering a concussion and a rib injury during a recent fall, said on Tuesday that he and Senate Republicans won’t lend Democrats a hand in this situation.

“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, according to CNN political correspondent Manu Raju.

McConnell famously denied then-President Barack Obama a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of his second term and spent the entirety of the Trump administration seeding conservative judges throughout the federal judiciary. 

GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee  Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn, John Cornyn, and Thom Tillis have all also come out against the swap, meaning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must keep his remaining conference together and find 10 willing GOP supporters to overcome the 60 vote threshold required to rearrange Feinstein’s committee assignment. 

“I don’t think you can expect any Republican cooperation,” Cornyn told CNN on Monday, prodding his colleagues to stand firm against expediting “President Biden’s most controversial nominees.” 

Tillis said he felt for Feinstein, whose months-long absence has kept Senate Democrats from shepherding judicial nominees through the narrowly divided chamber and sparked calls for her immediate resignation, but drew the line at making it easier to install liberal judges on the federal bench. 

“I deeply respect Senator Feinstein, but this is an unprecedented request solely intended to appease those pushing for radical, activist judges,” the North Carolina Republican announced online. 

Feinstein floated the idea of having another senator fill in for her on April 13, asking Schumer to tap a replacement until she resumes her duties on Capitol Hill. 

With the return of Sen. John Fetterman on Monday following his weeks-long treatment for clinical depression, Senate Democrats have recovered another vote but are still down Feinstein’s majority-making 51st vote. 

Schumer and Senate Judiciary Committee chair Dick Durbin did not immediately respond to requests for comment about how they planned to proceed on the Feinstein issue. 

But Durbin told CNN that he wasn’t in favor of pursuing a pressure campaign — yet. 

“She is obviously sensitive to the fact that her absence has an impact on the committee,” Durbin said Monday. “I’m not going to push her into any other decision.”

April 18, 11:30 AM ET — The story has been updated to include comments from Sen. Mitch McConnell. 


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