Updated May 2, 2023 - Politics & Policy

AOC urges Feinstein to retire, calling "anti-feminist" criticisms a "farce"

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during a news conference with Democratic lawmakers about the Biden administrations border politics, outside the U.S. Capitol on January 26, 2023 in Washington, DC

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a news conference with Democratic lawmakers outside the Capitol on Jan. 26. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday became the latest lawmaker to publicly urge California Sen. Dianne Feinstein to resign as the 89-year-old Democrat's absence from Congress continues.

Driving the news: Feinstein "should retire," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on the new social media app Bluesky. "I think criticisms of that stance as ‘anti-feminist’ are a farce," she said.

The big picture: Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna (Calif.), Dean Phillips (Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) have all said that Feinstein, who has been absent for two months while recovering from shingles, should resign.

  • But one House Democrat previously told Axios that privately the sentiment is much more widespread within the party, even as most have publicly demurred or stayed silent on the matter.
  • Concerns about Feinstein's health and ability to serve predate her current absence, and she has already announced she won't seek re-election next year.

Why it matters: Feinstein's prolonged absence has made it harder for Senate Democrats to push judicial nominees through the committee.

  • "Her refusal to either retire or show up is causing great harm to the judiciary - precisely where repro rights are getting stripped," Ocasio-Cortez wrote Tuesday, per CNN.
  • "That failure means now in this precious window Dems can only pass GOP- approved nominees."

Context: Some women lawmakers across the aisle have defended Feinstein, and say that they see sexism and ageism in the calls for her to resign.

  • Some women Senate Republicans have couched their argument against Feinstein's request to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee in the assertion that gender hypocrisy is at play.
  • "[I]f it were a dude would they be saying you need to step down, or you need to recuse yourself from a committee?" Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told Axios last month.

What we’re watching: There’s no clear timeline for Feinstein’s return to the Senate, and she is unlikely to return before May 9.

  • "Don’t expect her this week," her spokesperson told Axios.

Go deeper: GOP senators dig in against Feinstein committee swap

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from a spokesperson for Feinstein.

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