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

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that he had a “serious” conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (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. 

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 Barrett’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. 

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 Leahy (D-Vt.), who technically outranks Feinstein, is expected to take over the Appropriations gavel. Sen. Dick Durbin (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 Coons (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.”

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination Charles Schumer Chris Coons Chuck Schumer Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Patrick Leahy
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