Rep. Dean Phillips: Sen. Feinstein 'clearly losing mental acuity,' should resign

A man sits in a U.S. Congress meeting room, listening.
“Those who work with [Feinstein] daily… all know that she is in no position to fulfill the duties of this job,” Rep. Dean Phillips told MPR News host Cathy Wurzer on Tuesday.
Kevin Dietsch-Pool | Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is back at the Capitol after nearly three months away because of illness.

When she returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room earlier this month, the 89-year-old got a standing ovation. But there are concerns about the democrat’s physical and mental fitness.

Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips is renewing his call for Feinstein to resign. Writing for The Daily Beast, Phillips said Feinstein “risks tarnishing her remarkable legacy by staying in office.”

On MPR News' Morning Edition, Phillips refuted claims his statements were ageist.

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“Those who work with [Feinstein] daily… all know that she is in no position to fulfill the duties of this job,” Phillips told MPR News host Cathy Wurzer.

“Which is hard enough, when you're my age, 54, let alone 89 and infirm, and clearly losing mental acuity that is so important in that job, so I have great compassion.”

Phillips said recent scandals at the Capitol — including the indictment of Representative George Santos — have further eroded trust in government. Santos has refused to resign.

Phillips told Wurzer he wants term limits at the Capitol, and more scrutiny of folks in office, including background checks.

Term limits have been debated at the Capitol for decades, without much progress. But polling suggests most Americans support term limits and want age caps for public officials.

“If you look at the tenure, of people like Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer and former Speaker Pelosi, literally decades, I don't think that's healthy for democracy,” Phillips said.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.