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Schumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that he had a "serious" conversation with Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinInfrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing If you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Calif.) amid progressive backlash over her handling of last week's Supreme Court hearings, but declined to address her future role on the Judiciary Committee. 

Schumer, speaking to reporters during a press conference, declined to say if he would make changes to the Judiciary Committee or to disclose how his conversation with Feinsten went. 

"I had a long and serious talk with Sen. Feinstein. That's all I'm going to say," Schumer told reporters. 

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Asked if he could discuss the conversation, he added: "Nope." 

Schumer's decision to sidestep questions about Feinstein's future comes after the California Democrat, 87, sparked calls for her caucus to replace her as the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee over her handling of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettJudge Judy on expanding Supreme Court: 'It's a dumb idea' Court watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress MORE's Supreme Court nomination hearings. 

Feinstein sparked fierce backlash from some progressive groups when she thanked Graham for how he ran the hearings and was spotted hugging him after Thursday's hearing wrapped.

Feinstein, earlier on Thursday, had also criticized Republicans for deciding to move forward with Barrett's nomination. She also released a statement on Friday defending how Democrats handled the hearing. 

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But Feinstein has long been a target of progressive frustration because she's expressed opposition to nixing the legislative filibuster, a procedural hurdle that activists and a growing number of lawmakers warn could be a buzzsaw for major Democratic priorities next year. 

Feinstein on Tuesday declined to discuss her conversation with Schumer. Feinstein, as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, would be in line to chair the panel if Democrats win the majority in November. 

Democratic aides and senators acknowledge that while there is some "frustration" with Feinstein's style, it appears unlikely that the caucus would move to block her from becoming Judiciary Committee chairwoman next year. Feinstein would be the first woman to chair the powerful panel. 

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGaetz compares allegations against him to earmarks: 'Everybody knows that that's the corruption' House Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection Biden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat MORE (D-Vt.), who technically outranks Feinstein, is expected to take over the Appropriations gavel. Sen. Dick DurbinDick Durbin28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas ceasefire Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Sweeping election reform bill faces Senate buzz saw MORE (D-Ill.), who would be next in line, said on Tuesday that he wants to be majority whip, effectively taking himself out of the running. 

Other committee members defended Feinstein on Tuesday. 

"I think Sen. Feinstein has a long record of fighting for gender equality and reproductive rights and has led the minority on the committee well. And I look forward to continuing to serve with her," said Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsNew York, New Jersey, California face long odds in scrapping SALT  Biden to go one-on-one with Manchin US, Iran signal possible breakthroughs in nuke talks MORE (D-Del.). 

Asked about calls for her to step down or be replaced as the top Democrat, Coons added: “I don’t think that’s for me to say.”