One day after tweeting that California Sen. Dianne Feinstein should resign from her post, citing that “she can no longer fulfill her duties,” Democratic representative for the state Ro Khanna sat with Don Lemon on “CNN This Morning” to discuss why now is the time to take such a stand.
“It has become painfully obvious to many of us in California that she is no longer able to fulfill her duties as she doesn’t have a clear return date,” Khanna said, referring to the 89-year-old Democrat’s nearly two-month absence from the Senate following a shingles diagnosis. “We haven’t been able to confirm judges at at time where women’s rights and voting rights are under assault.”
Calls for Feinstein’s resignation have been mounting as she’s missed 58 Senate votes since her February absence. And her bout with shingles has only amplified preexisting concerns for her health as she’s displayed growing memory and cognitive issues over the last year. Previously, Feinstein and her team have maintained that she will finish her current term but will not seek reelection in 2024.
On Wednesday, Khanna tweeted, “We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. 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.”
He expanded on those thoughts Thursday.
“First of all let me just say this: I have an enormous amount of respect for Senator Dianne Feinstein. She has had an extraordinary career in public service, she has been an icon on issues of gun violence and women’s rights,” Khanna said, explaining that “the reason we’re not able to move these judges is because Senator Feinstein isn’t there. And so as someone from California, I felt an obligation to say what so many colleagues are saying in private, that the time has come for her to gracefully step down and have a dignified end to a very distinguished political career.”
On Wednesday night, the senator pushed back against calls for her resignation, but requested a temporary replacement on the Judiciary Committee so that judge nominations can break a tied vote in the Senate and move forward.
“I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee,” Feinstein said in a statement on Wednesday night. “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.”
Schumer is expected to make that request to the Senate next week. But Khanna, who was later backed up by a second House Democrat, Rep. Dean Phillips, maintained that resignation was the only solution.
“It’s a step, but as has been reported, it’s not that simple,” Khanna told Lemon of the proposed Judiciary Committee replacement effort. “Any single senator, Republican senator, can object to that. Sen. Schumer has done the right thing, he’s said he’s gonna try to get that done in the Senate, but we have to see if that’s even possible. And I guess my question is: Why not just take the step and resign instead of going through all of these motions. But I will say it’s constructive. The most urgent issue is that we can get our judges confirmed.”
Watch the full “CNN This Morning” interview in the video above.