Home Emergency Sen. Dianne Feinstein returns to Washington and plans to work a ‘lighter...

Sen. Dianne Feinstein returns to Washington and plans to work a ‘lighter schedule’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., cast her first two votes on the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon following a nearly three-month absence due to health issues.

Upon her arrival on Capitol Hill, she was assisted into a wheelchair and greeted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Feinstein told reporters that she feels “much better,” but she did not answer questions about why she decided to return or respond to calls from critics to resign.

The two votes were the first that Feinstein had cast since Feb. 16. She missed two votes that were held earlier Wednesday before her arrival — adding to the 91 floor votes she missed while she recovered from shingles, according to an NBC News tally.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Feinstein said that she is back in Washington but will be working a “lighter schedule” as she resumes her duties.

“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.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters Wednesday morning that he expects Feinstein to attend the committee’s business meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday. He said the committee plans to use her vote to report out to the full Senate some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees who have been stuck in a stalemate due to her absence. He did not indicate which nominees they would vote on.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., at the Capitol on Nov. 28, 2022.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

“I’ve got to count noses and also count how they’re gonna vote,” Durbin said, “I can’t predict all will be called, I’m not sure yet.”

In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, Schumer welcomed Feinstein’s return. He said he had been in touch with Feinstein over the past few weeks, and that he can “report she’s exactly where she wants to be.”

“Ready to do the thing she loves most: serving the people of California,” Schumer said.

Feinstein’s absence has complicated Democratic efforts to confirm some of Biden’s nominees, with the Judiciary Committee going from an 11-10 majority to a 10-10 stalemate during her absence.

While Senate Democrats were able to advance several of Biden’s nominees with GOP backing, they’ve had to hold on others that fell short of bipartisan support.

Democrats had attempted to temporarily replace Feinstein on the committee with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., but that effort was blocked by Republicans last month, with many saying they could not vote to make it easier for Biden to seat judicial nominees whom they found to be radical or otherwise unacceptable.

Feinstein later defended her absence and disputed the notion that it impeded the number of nominees advanced by the committee.

“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.”

Feinstein, who has served in the Senate since 1992, is the chamber’s oldest member at 89 years old. She announced in February her plans to retire from Congress at the end of 2024 after three decades in the chamber.

The 2024 primary to fill Feinstein’s seat is expected to be a key race next year. California Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee have announced their Senate campaigns to succeed Feinstein.

Liz Brown-Kaiser contributed.

Most Popular

Aaron Judge breaks through Dodger Stadium fence after insane running catch

Aaron Judge is without a doubt one of the best hitters on the planet, but that's all he does.It turns out the guy is...

Joran van der Sloot, key suspect in Natalee Holloway disappearance, moved to new prison ahead of extradition to U.S.

LIMA, Peru — The chief suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway is being transferred to a prison near Peru’s...

‘Don’t want to live life anymore without confessing’: Man confesses to killing landlord 15 years ago, police recordings show

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police officers found Tony Peralta earlier this month sitting on a curb not far from the convenience store in a small...

Biden signs bipartisan debt ceiling bill to avert government default

President Joe Biden on Saturday signed into law a bill extending the debt ceiling for two years, averting an economically disastrous debt default ahead of Monday’s...