Feinstein Set To Return To Senate This Week After Weeks Of Uncertainty And Missed Votes

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) leaves the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is set to return to the Senate this week, after a nearly three-month absence as she recovered from shingles, a spokesperson for the senator confirmed to TPM.

The longtime senator is expected to return to voting as early as Wednesday. That would be her first recorded vote since Feb. 16.

Feinstein — who sits on the Judiciary Committee — has been absent from the Senate since she was diagnosed with shingles in late February. During the months she has been away, Feinstein has missed dozens of Senate votes including many on the crucial Judiciary Committee where her presence is required to break a tie and move President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees to the floor. 

Recently, her lengthy absence and its effect on the Judiciary Committee has led some House Democrats to call for her resignation. 

The 89-year-old has previously faced some questions around her cognitive health and she already announced she is not running for reelection in 2024. After calls for her resignation started becoming public, Feinstein even tried to temporarily step aside from her committee seat and allow another Democratic senator to serve in her place. But Republicans blocked the move in April, making it clear that they had no intention of helping Democrats get more of Biden’s judicial nominees confirmed.

Over the weekend, amid calls from some House Democrats, Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) commented on Feinstein’s absence, gently applying some pressure on the 89-year-old senator to return to Capitol Hill promptly.

“I don’t want to say that she’s going to be put under more pressure than others have been in the past,” Durbin said on CNN. “But the bottom line is: The business of the committee and of the Senate is affected by her absence.”

Durbin’s comments came as some Democrats have been speculating that Senate Republicans would refuse to fill the vacancy on the Judiciary Committee even if Feinstein were to resign. Although Senate Republicans told TPM that would have been unlikely, that possibility of such a scenario ricocheted around the Senate like a “heat-seeking missile” for several days last month.

Shortly after it became public that Feinstein will be returning to D.C., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) put out a statement.

“I’m glad that my friend Dianne is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work,” Schumer said. “After talking with her multiple times over the past few weeks, it’s clear she’s back where she wants to be and ready to deliver for California.”

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