Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the past four years, revealed on Monday that she will "not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress."
"I look forward to continuing to serve as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules committees as we work with the Biden administration on priorities like gunsafety, immigration reform and addressing inequities in criminal justice. I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the coming years," she wrote in her November 23 news release.
The 87-year-old Democrat is no stranger to criticism from fellow Democrats over her centrist approach to legislation, but many liberals expressed outrage over Feinstein's decision to embrace a maskless Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last month and thank him for leading a fair confirmation hearing for now-SCOTUS Justice Barrett.
Sharing this clip of Sen. Feinstein hugging Sen. Graham at conclusion of Barrett Confirmation Hearing. pic.twitter.com/qAyBGyGR8A— Jeremy Art (@cspanJeremy) November 23, 2020
NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Ilyse Hogue, whose group opposed Barrett's appointment, slammed Feinstein for failing to expose the nominee's confirmation process was “unprecedented, shameful and wrong," according to The Hill.
Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, noted that the 87-year-old's announcement comes as "a necessary step" in a long line of legislative reform.
“This was a necessary step if Democrats are ever going to meaningfully confront the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have done to the federal judiciary,” he asserted, noting that the future top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee "must be led by someone who will not wishfully cling to a bygone era of civility and decorum that Republicans abandoned long ago."
Despite the recent criticism, Feinstein focused instead on issues she wishes to tackle in the near future.
"California is a huge state confronting two existential threats - wildfire and drought - that are only getting worse with climate change," she stated.
"In the next Congress, I plan to increase my attention on those two crucial issues. I also believe that defeating COVID-19, combating climate change, and protecting access to health care are critical national priorities that require even more concentration."
Feinstein has been a member of Congress since 1992 was re-elected to the US Senate in 2018. No term limits exist for the US legislative chambers.