Another Democrat Out of the Senate Dealing with Health Problem: 'Hopes to Return to Washington Soon'
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the oldest member of Congress, has returned to her home state to address a medical issue, according to a report Thursday.
A representative of Feinstein said the 89-year-old senator is “dealing with a health matter,” The Washington Post reported.
Feinstein “hopes to return to Washington soon,” the representative said, without providing any additional details about the senator’s condition.
Feinstein is the second Democratic lawmaker to disappear from the halls of Congress during the current session. Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, who suffered a debilitating stroke during his campaign last spring, recently checked himself into a Maryland hospital to receive treatment for clinical depression.
Her spokesperson said the senator “hopes to return to Washington soon” but did not elaborate on when or specify what the health matter was.
The senior senator from California recently announced she would not seek reelection. https://t.co/HtiMMuJMd3
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 2, 2023
Questions have long circulated about Feinstein’s apparently declining mental and physical abilities, even among her liberal allies.
Last April, her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, ran an article proclaiming, “Colleagues worry Dianne Feinstein is now mentally unfit to serve, citing recent interactions.”
The story quoted an anonymous California Democrat in Congress who had worked with Feinstein for 15 years. The lawmaker described having to be introduced multiple times during the encounter.
During that interaction, Feinstein seemed only capable of repeating “the same small-talk questions, like asking the lawmaker what mattered to voters in their district … with no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation,” the Chronicle reported.
“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” the lawmaker told the Chronicle.
“She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.”
Just last month, Feinstein’s mental capabilities again became a topic of conversation when her office announced that the senator would retire rather than seek re-election in 2024.
However, according to The Hill, when reporters asked about the move the day the announcement was made, she indicated she wasn’t aware of it.
“Well, I haven’t made that decision,” Feinstein told them. “I haven’t released anything.”
When a staff member contradicted her and said, “Senator, we put out your statement,” Feinstein appeared surprised.
“You put out the statement?” she asked. “I didn’t know they put it out.”
A similar incident happened in November when she was seemingly unaware of her office releasing an announcement that she would not seek the position of president pro tempore of the Senate, which would have put her third in line for the presidency.
Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Judiciary, Intelligence and Appropriations committees, will be 91 when her current term is up in 2025.
She has said she intends to serve out the entire term.
“There are times for all things under the sun, and I think that will be the right time,” the senator said, according to the Post.
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