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Growing GOP opposition to Dianne Feinstein committee swap puts Chuck Schumer in a tough spot

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California talks to Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas while sharing an elevator at the US Capitol on February 16, 2023 in Washington, DC.Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California talks to Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas while sharing an elevator at the US Capitol on February 16, 2023 in Washington, DC.

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  • 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.

Several Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said they’re not on board with welcoming a temporary replacement to the panel while Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein recovers from a nagging illness, quashing any hopes of speeding along a swap without running up against the filibuster rules.  

The growing chorus of dissenters, which currently includes Judiciary members Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn, John Cornyn and Thom Tillis, means 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. 

And it seems highly unlikely that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has also been out for several weeks after suffering a concussion and a rib injury during a recent fall, will lend Democrats a hand in this case. 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. 

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.”

Read the original article on Business Insider