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Dianne Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Senate Judiciary Committee following Supreme Court hearing backlash

“After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress,” the 87-year-old politician said on Monday. 

She added that California was facing “two existential threats” – wildfires and droughts – which was where she would focus her efforts as a senator. 

But the decision from the Democrat comes after she faced scrutiny from members of her party for her performance during Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings – specifically when she praised Republican Lindsey Graham, the chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, for his handlings of the process. 

Following the hearing, Ms Feinstein even went as far as to hug her Republican colleague – a move that sparked swift blowback as it went against the Democratic narrative that Republicans wrongly sped up the Supreme Court nomination after the party blocked President Barak Obama’s justice pick in 2016. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went as far as to reveal he had a “long and serious” talk with Ms Feinstein after the hearing.  

If the Democratic Party were to win the two George Senate runoffs in January, they would gain control over the US Senate. Ms Feinstein would’ve been poised to take the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary, making her the first female to hold that position. 

The Democratic senator has held a place in the US Senate since 1992, making her one of the more senior members of not only the Democratic Party, but Congress in general. Her politics have largely veered just left of centre, causing a problem among the younger members of her party who are more progressive. 

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois is next in line to take the top position for the Democratic Party in the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.