Updated Apr 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Republicans block motion to temporarily replace Feinstein on Judiciary Committee

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Building on April 17, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Building on April 17, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Republicans blocked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) request to temporarily replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

The big picture: Republicans were expected to block the measure, as Feinstein's absence from being hospitalized with shingles has stalled Democrats’ efforts to advance judicial nominees.

  • Schumer’s choice of replacing Feinstein with Cardin wouldn't have changed the calculus for Republicans, according to a senior GOP aide, who told Axios before the vote: "That ship has sailed."
  • His unanimous consent request for the substitution was blocked by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on behalf of Republicans, which means Schumer will have to put it to a full floor vote.

Driving the news: Schumer did not answer when asked Tuesday whether Feinstein should consider resigning if she does not return by May.

  • "I spoke to Sen. Feinstein just a few days ago and she and I are both very hopeful that she will return very soon," Schumer said before announcing Cardin would be his top pick and that he would try to get unanimous consent to swap the two senators.

Zoom out: More than a half dozen Senate Republicans, including members of leadership, told Axios on Monday that they would oppose Schumer's effort to temporarily substitute Feinstein.

  • Some Republicans signaled more openness to filling Feinstein's seat if she were to resign altogether.
  • Feinstein, 89, has faced pressure from her own party to resign from the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Democrats cannot advance judicial nominees who do not have Republican support.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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