Dianne Feinstein Releases Statement in Attempt to Downplay Her 2-Month Senate Absence, But It Blows Up in Her Face
California’s senior Democrat senator, Dianne Feinstein, has been under pressure to resign her seat amid ongoing health problems exacerbated by her advanced age, but she is apparently adamant that she intends to hold on until the end.
Feinstein downplayed her two-month absence Thursday despite heavy criticism from other members of her party.
Early in March, the senator, who was first elected in 1992, was admitted to the hospital, leaving the Democrats without her vote — a situation that has held up the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s judicial appointments.
Feinstein was hospitalized with a case of shingles, a skin condition that is serious for elderly people.
The senator, who turns 90 in June, has faced questions over the last few years about her cognitive health and memory, though she has defended her effectiveness in representing a state that is home to nearly 40 million people.
Her mental state was put in the spotlight when her office put out a statement saying she would not seek re-election in 2024, and when asked about it by a reporter, Feinstein denied the statement and said she didn’t know her staff had released it.
After being admitted to the hospital, Feinstein said in a statement on March 2, “I was diagnosed over the February recess with a case of shingles. I have been hospitalized and am receiving treatment in San Francisco and expect to make a full recovery.
“I hope to return to the Senate later this month.”
That didn’t happen. After several weeks went by, she issued another statement April 12.
“When I was first diagnosed with shingles, I expected to return by the end of the March work period,” the senator said. “Unfortunately, my return to Washington has been delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis.”
“I intend to return as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel. In the meantime, I remain committed to the job and will continue to work from home in San Francisco.”
Feinstein asked that another Democrat be allowed to temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee, but Republicans blocked that effort.
A number of Democrats — including Reps. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Rep. Ro Khanna of California — demanded she resign and even charged that her refusal to do so was a “dereliction of duty” on her part.
Finally, on Monday, Feinstein indicated she was “hopeful” she would return to the Senate next week, according to Politico — and she issued a statement Thursday insisting her extended absence has been no big deal.
“The Senate continues to swiftly confirm highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary, including seven more judicial nominees who were confirmed this week. There has been no slowdown,” the senator said.
The Senate continues to swiftly confirm highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary, including seven more judicial nominees who were confirmed this week. There has been no slowdown.https://t.co/9Q2lQOr68I
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) May 4, 2023
But her insistence that there has been no slowdown is a sort of smoke screen, as far as many are concerned.
Twitter user Terrence Daniels, for instance, had a salient point when he wrote, “But to be clear they are being confirmed without you being involved in any way shape or form correct? Senator was never supposed to be a lifetime appointment, this isn’t a retirement home! We need term limits!”
But to be clear they are being confirmed without you being involved in any way shape or form correct? Senator was never supposed to be a lifetime appointment, this isn’t a retirement home! We need term limits!
— Terrence Daniels (Captain 🍀 Planet) (@Terrence_STR) May 4, 2023
Daniels is correct that if there had been any votes that came close, the Democrats would not have had Feinstein’s vote there to help them overcome the opposition. And that is a major problem for them.
Others were just as alarmed by her absence.
With all due respect, you need to get back to Washington ASAP.
— Robert Fleming (@RobertWF1972) May 5, 2023
I’m sorry but AOC has a point. You being unable to attend, and I don’t begrudge you healing time shingles is miserable, is why there are several justices that can’t move forward. To put out a press release that states otherwise isn’t truth either.
— 🟧🟦Michelle Sanford (@Michelle60711) May 4, 2023
There were very few replies to Feinstein’s tweet, even from her supporters, that agreed that her absence has been inconsequential, and most urged her to retire.
Clearly, her dismissive attitude about her absence is not faring well among her fellow Democrats.
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