Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday defended her ongoing absence from the Judiciary Committee amid calls for her resignation, insisting that there has been "no slowdown" of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees as she recovers from shingles.
“The Senate continues to swiftly confirm highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary, including seven more judicial nominees who were confirmed this week. There has been no slowdown," Feinstein said in a statement.
"I’m confident that when I return to the Senate, we will be able to move the remaining qualified nominees out of committee quickly and to the Senate floor for a vote."
The statement did not provide details about a return date to Washington. Feinstein, 89, faces calls from fellow Democrats to resign amid her absence following her hospitalization with shingles this year. She has not cast a vote in the Senate since Feb. 16.
Feinstein has been out of the hospital since March and working from home in San Francisco since then, her spokesperson said.
Asked when Feinstein would be back in Washington, the spokesperson, Adam Russell, said a return date had not been set. “That date is contingent on her medical team clearing her to fly. And they have not done so yet,” Russell said.
Despite her illness, Feinstein has signaled her intention to remain in office until the end of her term in 2025.
While Senate Democrats have been able to advance several of Biden’s nominees with Republican votes, they had to pause on others that fell short of bipartisan backing.
“While the Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced eight strong nominees during my absence, I’m disappointed that Republicans on the committee are blocking a few from moving forward," Feinstein said in her statement.
Feinstein asked last month that another Democrat temporarily replace her on the panel to help move along several of Biden's nominees. But the proposal was rejected by some key Senate Republicans, who said the move would enable Democrats to advance judges on a party-line basis.