Longtime U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (R-CA) returned to the Senate for the first time since February after recovering from shingles. Feinstein, who is the oldest member to ever serve in the Senate at 89, has announced that she plans to retire at the end of 2024.
Video footage shows an ailing Senator Feinstein being helped out of a car and into a wheelchair by a handful of staff members. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was on-hand to welcome Feinstein back to the chamber for a late afternoon vote after an extended medical absence.
While Feinstein returned on Wednesday, she did miss two previous votes earlier in the day. In total, the longtime California Democrat missed 91 floor votes while recovering from shingles, according to a tally from NBC News.
“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. “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 said in a statement, adding that doctors have instructed her to keep a “lighter schedule.”
What is the first thought that comes to mind when you see this photo of Dianne Feinstein? pic.twitter.com/zJSS1kLGF1
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) May 10, 2023
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters that Feinstein is expected to attend the committee’s business meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Some Democrats have expressed frustration with Feinstein’s absence, which has slowed caucus efforts to confirm Biden’s judicial nominees. Without Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee went from an 11-10 Democrat majority to a 10-10 deadlock.
“There has been no slowdown,” Feinstein wrote in a statement last week. “I’m confident that when I return to the Senate, we will be able to move the remaining qualified nominees out of committee quickly and to the Senate floor for a vote.”