Dianne Feinstein is leaving as the chief Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Feinstein, 87, said he was “stepping up” his “attention” to the California wildfire and drought crisis, and that three issues – the coronavirus epidemic, climate change and “access to health care” – were critical national priorities that required even greater attention. concentration. “

His statement did not mention Barrett’s confirmation of the replacement of the late liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg judiciary, which further strengthened the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

While Democratic senators could not independently block Barrett’s nomination in the Republican-led senate, liberal activists were apoplectic when Feinstein undermined Democrats ’relentless attempt to portray the process as illegitimate when he praised Lindsey Graham’s chairman of the Justice Committee.

Democrats, including Feinstein, blew up Senate Republicans because they rushed to ratify the candidate in the month before election day after blocking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court candidate, Merrick Garland, in 2016 because it was an election year. But after a four-day hearing in October, Feinstein told the South Carolina Republican that “this is one of the best hearings I’ve attended,” and he hugged him.

Liberal activists from groups such as Demand Justice and NARAL Pro-Choice America quickly called on Feinstein to leave, and Sen. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he “had a long and serious conversation” with him. Last month, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a Democratic whip, praised Feinstein’s opening remarks and questions at CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” but described Feinstein’s last remark to Graham as “misleading.”

Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, said Feinstein did the right thing on Monday.

“From now on, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee must be led by someone who is undesirable to cling to a bygone era of civilism and decoration that Republicans have long since abandoned,” Fallon said. “The next leading Democrat on the committee must be someone who is willing to fight for President-elect Biden’s candidates, whatever it is, and who will take bold steps to restore the balance of our courts.”

Feinstein said he will continue to be a leading Democrat in the panels on justice, intelligence, appropriations and rules, working on priorities such as gun security, criminal justice and immigration.

“I will do my best to make positive changes in the years to come,” he said.

Schumer praised Feinstein “as one of the country’s leading advocates for women and voting rights, arms security reform, civil liberties, health care, and the rights of immigrants who aspire to citizenship in this great country.

“Senator Feinstein’s experience, decades of relationship with President-elect Biden and leadership will continue to be of value to our California presidency and the country on many issues as we begin a new cycle with the new president,” he added. .