Utah Sen. Mitt Romney joined other Republicans in saying he would not approve of replacing Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee, because he did not want to make it easier to “appoint more liberal judges.”

Republicans blocked a measure to temporarily replace Feinstein, who is recovering from shingles, with Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin.

“They’d like Republicans to help them speed the appointment of more liberal justices? Yes — when hell freezes over,” Romney told NBC News.

Similarly, Romney told CNN, “I don’t think Republicans are going to lift a finger in any way to get more liberal judges appointed, so whether she’s resigned or leaves temporarily from the Judiciary Committee, I think we will slow walk any process that makes it easier to appoint more liberal judges,” he said.

Romney’s office told the Deseret News he had no comment beyond what he has already said.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that the proposal to install a substitute for Feinstein is “extremely unusual.”

“Let’s be clear,” said McConnell on the Senate floor, per PBS. “Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporarily absent colleague off a committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees.”

Since the Judiciary Committee is evenly split without the California senator, the committee has had to postpone voting on judicial nominees, per CNN.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., previously said, “I can’t consider nominees in these circumstances because a tie vote is a losing vote in committee.”

On whether or not Feinstein should retire, Durbin said, “This is her decision. She’s had a remarkable career in the Senate. I’m not going to make that decision or even suggest it,” per Politico.

Feinstein is 89 years old and hasn’t attended hearings in Washington, D.C., since February.

But Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said there may be a “political agenda” at play for putting pressure on Feinstein, the first and longest-serving woman senator in U.S. history.

“It’s interesting to me, 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,” she told KTVU News.

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Amid calls to resign from Democrats, Feinstein seeks Judiciary Committee replacement

Other women lawmakers, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., echoed Pelosi’s statements, saying Feinstein should decide when to step down.

Yet, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who was the first Democratic lawmaker to call for her to step down, said that Feinstein should retire “simply based on her missing over 75% of votes, not having a clear return date, and having had years of issues fulfilling her duty,” as he told Axios.

In response to the growing pressure, Feinstein issued a statement last week and requested that another Democrat replace her until she can resume her committee work.

Feinstein added that she remained committed to her job and would carry on working remotely from San Francisco.

The White House said Feinstein’s request for a replacement was “reasonable,” as press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing. “And it is flat wrong to seek partisan advantage from health issues of a colleague,” she added.

If the GOP prevents Feinstein’s replacement from stepping in, she will need to retire or return to the Senate for the committee’s work to continue.

“The situation of just letting the nominations stall endlessly is not tenable,” Brian Fallon, the executive director of the progressive advocacy group Demand Justice, told The New York Times. “The conversation needs to be shifted to what can be done now. That concern hasn’t gone away, and this option isn’t going to solve it.”

After Feinstein said she will step down from the Senate after serving the remaining two years of her term, three Democratic candidates — Rep. Katie Porter of Orange County, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland and Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank — launched their campaigns for the seat.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint a replacement should Feinstein, who was elected to the Senate in 1992, resign before the end of her term in 2024. The Golden State governor has previously said his pick might be an African American woman.

Lee told KQED she would accept the appointment if Newsom offered.

“I am really hoping and praying that Sen. Feinstein has a speedy and full recovery,” Lee said. “And the concern right now for me personally is about her health.”

Suzanne Bates contributed to this article.