Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Tuesday called on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to retire.
Ocasio-Cortez joins a small chorus of House Democrats who have said they believe the 89-year-old, who’s been on medical leave since the beginning of March, should step down after some 30 years of service in the Senate.
Feinstein “should retire. I think criticisms of that stance as ‘anti-feminist’ are a farce,” Ocasio-Cortez posted on the new social media app Bluesky.
At least two other House Democrats, Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ro Khanna of California, have also publicly urged Feinstein to retire.
So far, though, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been reluctant to join those calls, as have other Democratic Senators.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has accused those calling for Feinstein’s retirement of sexism.
“We have male members that have various challenges, and I’m not hearing anybody suggesting that they retire. I do think she has been treated unfairly. And so she’ll make the decision, and I will support that decision,” Stabenow said in April.
On April 18, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked an attempt to temporarily replace Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as per her request, while she recovers from shingles.
“Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporarily absent colleague off a committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) has acknowledged that Feinstein’s absence has slowed down Democrats’ efforts to confirm President Biden’s judicial nominees.
Feinstein’s absence reduces Democrats’ narrow majority in the chamber by one to 50-49. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) warned April 16 that Democrats could need that vote on critical issues like the debt ceiling.
However, in that same interview Klobuchar came to Feinstein’s defense, saying, “Many people have been out, as you know, for periods of time when they’re sick, and they have come back. In this case, we are going to need her vote on the Senate floor eventually.”
Yet Klobuchar also conceded, “If this goes on month after month after month, then she’s going to have to make a decision with her family and her friends about what her future holds because this isn’t just about California, it’s also about the nation. And we just can’t, with this one vote margin, and expect every other person to be there every single time.”