California Rep. Ro Khanna again calls on Dianne Feinstein to resign over health concerns: 'It's painful to watch.'

Ro Khanna
Rep. Ro Khanna of California.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • Rep. Ro Khanna said it was "painfully obvious" that Sen. Feinstein should no longer serve in office.

  • Khanna made the comment on MSNBC after Feinstein's return to DC after a monthslong absence.

  • "I think they should have a loving conversation about it being time," Khanna said of Feinstein's confidantes.

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California — who previously called on Sen. Dianne Feinstein to resign after her extended absence from office — on Thursday reiterated his call for the Golden State lawmaker to step down, saying it was "painfully obvious to people" that she was not fit to hold her position any longer.

Khanna, who represents a congressional district anchored in the San Francisco Bay Area, told MSNBC host Alex Wagner that while he had reverence for Feinstein's trailblazing political career, he felt that the 89-year-old Democratic lawmaker was no longer able to serve her constituents.

For weeks, Khanna has expressed concern that Feinstein's absence was harming President Joe Biden's agenda, as Democratic leaders struggled to advance some of their nominees through the Judiciary Committee while she was away.

"First, let me say, I admire her career," Khanna told Wagner. "She has had an extraordinary career. But it's sad for anyone to see and it's sad for her own colleagues to see."

"I'm hopeful that people who are close to her can talk to her and just say, 'Look, end your service with dignity. Step aside, let the governor appoint someone,'" he continued, while later remarking that it was "painfully obvious to people" that Feinstein wasn't in a condition to continue serving as California's senior senator.

While it was previously reported that Feinstein endured complications from shingles, which kept her away from the Senate from February until last Wednesday, a recent New York Times report disclosed that she also suffered from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a neurological disorder that in the senator's case was brought on by her bout with shingles.

Upon her return to the Senate, Feinstein appeared disoriented as an aide whisked her through the Capitol, according to The Times.

When Wagner asked Khanna if it was likely that she would heed calls for her to step down, the lawmaker expressed hope that she would do so.

"I hope so. I mean, I think for her own dignity, for her own career, for her own legacy, it would be good," he said. "It would be good for California."

Khanna, a progressive who is widely seen as a potential 2028 presidential candidate, then compared Feinstein to "an athlete who plays one or two more seasons."

"That's what this started out as. Now it's just painful. It's painful to watch," he continued. "My hope is I know there are people who are close to her ... I don't think it should be forceful; I think they should have a loving conversation about it being time."

In April, Khanna first called on Feinstein to leave the post she has held since a 1992 special election, tweeting that the interests of the American people should come before "personal loyalty."

"While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people," he added.

Feinstein had previously decided not to run for reelection in 2024, and Khanna, who in March declined a Senate bid of his own, has thrown his support behind Rep. Barbara Lee, a liberal icon. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, two big-name national Democratic figures, are also in the race.

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