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Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority

Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Congress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (D-Ill.) said on Tuesday he intends to run for his party's No. 2 spot if Democrats win the majority in November, amid chatter about who might chair the Judiciary Committee.

"I'll depend on the caucus for my future. I hope they believe I have served them well and give me a chance to continue," Durbin said, asked if he wanted to be the whip if Democrats win control of the Senate in November.

Pressed if he was saying he intends to run for the position, which is the caucus's top vote-counter, Durbin responded, "I do."

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Durbin's decision to say that he wants to be whip — a position that he currently holds for the Democratic caucus while they are in the minority — comes amid public pressure for the party to replace Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein pushes for California secretary of state to replace Harris in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (Calif.) as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel.

Durbin has not expressed a public interest in becoming Judiciary Committee chairman, and has declined to speculate on Feinstein's future as the top Democrat on the panel. 

But he would not be the first Democratic senator to hold both the No. 2 spot and a chairmanship. In recent history, then-Democratic Whip Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee Bottom line MORE (D-Nev.) chaired the Ethics Committee simultaneously, the late Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) chaired the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee while he was majority whip and the late Sen. Russell Long (D-La.) served as the Finance Committee chairman as part of his tenure as whip. 

Progressives have been publicly fuming over Feinstein's handling of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettGraham reports 'record-breaking' 9M haul during 2020 campaign The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Supreme Court sees new requests for religious COVID-19 carve-outs MORE's nomination, where she thanked Graham for how he ran the four-day hearing and was spotted giving him a hug.

If Democrats win back the majority, Feinstein is in line to become the chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee.

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Asked late last week about the calls for her to be replaced as the top Democrat on the panel, her office pointed to a statement where she defended Democrats' handling of the committee.

“The Senate is structured so the majority had absolute control over this process. When Republicans signaled they’d move ahead in the face of all objections, the only thing we could do was show this nominee would radically alter the court, and we accomplished that," Feinstein said in a statement on Friday.

Top Democrats have not publicly weighed in on the pressure from progressives to replace Feinstein atop the committee, and committee chairs are typically selected by seniority.

Beyond Feinstein, Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Incoming Congress looks more like America MORE (D-Vt.), who previously chaired the panel, is on the committee but expected to take over the Appropriations gavel if Democrats take over the majority.

After Durbin, Democrats on the committee, in order of seniority, are: Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseCriminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight MORE (R.I.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate committee advances bill for national Latino museum Senate committee approves nominations of three FEC commissioners Scammers step up efforts to target older Americans during pandemic MORE (Minn.), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate MORE (Del.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (Hawaii), Cory BookerCory BookerJudge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden officially clinches Electoral College votes with California certification Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Trump campaigns as wild card in Georgia runoffs MORE (Calif.).

—Updated Thursday at 3:58 p.m.