- Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she would step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next session of Congress.
- She did not specify why but said in a statement she wanted to focus on "defeating COVID-19, combating climate change, and protecting access to health care."
- Politico reported that sources close to the matter revealed Feinstein's resignation plans before she announced it.
- The resignation comes after criticism that she was not aggressive enough during the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she would step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She recently faced backlash from progressives for not being aggressive enough in the hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
"After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress," Feinstein said in a statement.
Feinstein did not indicate why she was stepping down, but Politico first reported that three people familiar with the matter revealed her resignation before she made a statement.
"California is a huge state confronting two existential threats – wildfire and drought – that are only getting worse with climate change. In the next Congress, I plan to increase my attention on those two crucial issues. I also believe that defeating COVID-19, combating climate change, and protecting access to health care are critical national priorities that require even more concentration," Feinstein said.
Several liberal political groups had called on the senior California senator to resign following the hearings.
"This was a necessary step if Democrats are ever going to meaningfully confront the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have done to the federal judiciary," Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, told Politico. "Going forward, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee must be led by someone who will not wishfully cling to a bygone era of civility and decorum that Republicans abandoned long ago."
Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate Minority Whip has already expressed interest in replacing Feinstein.
"I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress. We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights," Durbin said in a tweet.