Feinstein Gives Update On When She’ll Return To Senate
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) arrives at the Senate Chamber for a vote at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 in Washington, DC.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is returning to Capitol Hill, according to her office, signaling an end to a months-long absence due to health reasons that spurred calls for the lawmaker to resign.

A spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle that Feinstein is on her way back to Washington and could return to the Senate as early as Tuesday night.

The news comes at a critical moment in the fight between Democrats and Republicans over the debt ceiling, with officials warning of a possible default happening as early as next month without a deal. The White House scheduled a meeting with congressional leaders for Tuesday.

Feinstein announced in early March that she had been diagnosed with shingles and has been recovering ever since. Because Feinstein is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, her absence resulted in a 10-10 split along party lines that rendered the panel unable to advance some of President Joe Biden’s nominees to federal courts around the nation.

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has stuck by Feinstein, a small but growing number of Democrats have been publicly calling for her to resign, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ro Khanna (D-CA). The New York Times editorial board recently piled on, saying Feinstein’s absence was “a failure that deprives American voters of full representation on legislation and appointments that will affect them for decades to come.”

Though Republicans kept the pressure going by blocking a bid to replace Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein released a statement last week that argued that there “has been no slowdown” with judicial nominees. Still, Feinstein said she was “disappointed” that Republicans on the committee have been blocking a few nominees from moving forward. Feinstein said she expected them to advance “quickly” upon her return.

At the age of 89, Feinstein is the Senate’s oldest member, and in recent years, some colleagues had already begun to raise concerns about her mental fitness. Feinstein announced in February she would not seek re-election in 2024. Three prominent House Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee — have announced campaigns to replace Feinstein in the Senate.

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