Watch: Dem Feinstein Returns to Senate - Once She Gets Out of Car, It's Clear Things Still Aren't Good
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ailing California Democratic legislator who has been sidelined by illness since February, returned to work at the Capitol on Wednesday — sort of.
Feinstein, who at 89 is the oldest sitting member of Congress, “flew back to Washington Tuesday night but was not at the Capitol Wednesday morning and missed the first Senate vote just after noon,” the Washington Post reported.
“Just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feinstein arrived outside an entrance to the Senate in a gray sedan, where she was greeted by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and walked gingerly to a wheelchair.”
Dianne Feinstein, 89, returns to the Senate after being absent since February and recovering from shingles pic.twitter.com/FcMJr7ddni
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 10, 2023
NBC reported Feinstein missed the first two votes of the day, “adding to the 91 floor votes she missed while she recovered from shingles.”
Feinstein announced in a statement that she still expects to be on light duty for the foreseeable future.
“Even though I’ve made significant progress and was able to return to Washington, I’m still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus,” Feinstein said, according to NBC.
“My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate. I’m hopeful those issues will subside as I continue to recover.”
Feinstein statement: “Even though I’ve made significant progress and was able to return to Washington, I’m still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus. My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate.“
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 10, 2023
The New York Times said Feinstein’s return brings Democrats “back to full majority,” adding that her three-month absence “threatened to deprive her party of the votes to advance President Biden’s judicial nominees.”
The BBC suggested Feinstein’s return was hastened by calls from within her own party to resign.
“Democrats have worried that Ms Feinstein’s absence from the judiciary committee would complicate their ability to confirm federal judges, one of the few priorities they can accomplish with a divided Congress,” the BBC reported.
“The party is eager to install liberal-leaning justices to the lifetime posts after Republicans sought to remake the federal judiciary under former President Donald Trump.”
Even before her current illness, Feinstein faced growing criticism about her mental competency.
Prominent Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and California Rep. Ro Khanna, have publicly called for her to resign.
“Ms. Feinstein’s growing memory and cognitive issues had previously prompted concerns among her colleagues,” the Times reported.
“And a coalition of 65 grass-roots organizations in California signed a letter requesting that she step down and allow Gov. Gavin Newsom ‘to appoint an interim senator who can provide robust and constant representation for California through the election of 2024.’”
While she has resisted calls for her resignation, Feinstein did meet critics part way by announcing that she would not run for re-election in 2024.
She also requested a “temporary replacement” on the House Judiciary Committee, the Times reported.
In a statement Tuesday, Schumer welcomed Feinstein back to the Capitol and said he is “glad that my friend Dianne is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work.”
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