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Politics & Policy

Rep. Ro Khanna calls on Dianne Feinstein to resign from Senate

A composite image shows Rep. Ro Khanna (left) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo/Pool; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Dianne Feinstein’s prolonged absence from the U.S. Senate due to a medical condition has delayed the Biden administration's ability to move forward on the nomination and appointment of key federal judges, leading one Silicon Valley congressman to call for her resignation.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-San Jose, posted a Tweet on Wednesday saying the time has come for the longest-serving current member of the U.S. Senate to step aside.

In a statement to The Standard, Khanna said that key rulings on women’s abortion rights prompted the call for Feinstein’s resignation. Khanna referred to the recent opinion by a federal judge—appointed by former President Donald Trump—who blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortions. 

“The ruling by an extremist judge in Texas has made it clear that Democrats must act with speed and urgency to confirm judicial nominees who will protect the right to an abortion,” Khanna said. “Senator Feinstein is unable to fulfill her duties and for the good of the people, she should resign.”

Feinstein, 89, checked into a hospital last month for a case of shingles. In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Feinstein said that her return to Washington "has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis." She said she had asked Senate Leader Chuck Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve in her absence on the Judiciary Committee, and gave no indication she intends to resign.

"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," Feinstein said.

Feinstein’s health has been a source of speculation for years, and she announced in February that she will not seek reelection. Her decision to return home to San Francisco has left the Democrat’s slim 51-49 majority at the Senate even slimmer.

Meanwhile, Feinstein’s absence from the Senate Judiciary Committee has stalled Democrats' ability to move forward with appointments to the federal judiciary.

In a statement Thursday, Rep. John Garamendi, whose district includes Contra Costa and Solano counties, defended Feinstein's legacy and applauded her decision to temporarily relinquish her role on the Judiciary Committee.

"I strongly believe that Senator Feinstein deserves our respect and the opportunity to complete her final term in the U.S. Senate," Garamendi said.

If Feinstein were to resign before completing her term at the end of next year, Gov. Gavin Newsom would be tasked with making an appointment. In the meantime, three California members of congress have jumped into the race for Feinstein's seat.

Khanna recently endorsed Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, in the race to succeed Feinstein in the Senate. Other candidates include House Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, both of whom represent districts in Southern California.