Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) suggested Wednesday that her fellow Democrats are sexist for calling on 89-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) to resign.
Feinstein "deserves the respect to get well and to be back on duty," Pelosi told CBS affiliate KPIX. "I don't know what political agendas are at work that are going after Sen. Feinstein in that way. I've never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way."
The long-serving California senator has been away from work for nearly two months to fight a case of shingles, handicapping Democrats' ability to approve President Joe Biden's judicial nominees and prompting calls for her resignation. On the same day that Pelosi criticized her fellow party members, Politico reported that "multiple Democrats" are "increasingly concerned" that Feinstein "may never come back to Washington at all."
Even before the shingles diagnosis, the 89-year-old senator was in poor health, with three Senate Democrats saying last year that Feinstein is "too cognitively impaired to serve out her term." Feinstein in February announced that she will retire at the end of her term—and then, just hours later, forgot that she had made the announcement.
Progressive congressman Ro Khanna (D., Calif.) on Wednesday publicly declared that Feinstein should resign.
The Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday that Feinstein's resignation may create political headaches for California governor Gavin Newsom (D.), who would pick the senator's temporary replacement. Newsom, who has thinly veiled presidential aspirations, has already sworn to name a black woman to replace Feinstein. The only black female Democrat who is running for the spot, however, is the widely unpopular Rep. Barbara Lee.
Pelosi's remarks also point to Democratic infighting over who should succeed Feinstein. Khanna and other progressives want Lee, while "largely San Francisco-based establishment Democrats," including Pelosi, are supporting Rep. Adam Schiff, Politico reported.
Feinstein on Wednesday asked to step down from the Senate Judiciary Committee. While she said the move was only temporary, Politico noted, she "did not identify an expected return date."