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Feinstein returning to the Senate

Schumer: Feinstein is ready to ‘roll up her sleeves and get back to work’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is returning to Congress, ending a more than two-month absence due to illness, her office confirmed Tuesday.

Feinstein, 89, hasn’t voted since mid-February after being diagnosed and briefly hospitalized with shingles. She was traveling back to Washington as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a Democratic Senate aide. 

Several lawmakers had called for the California Democrat’s resignation as her absence grew longer, saying it had stymied the Senate’s process for approving President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees.

Reps. Ro Khanna of California, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Minnesota called for the resignation, citing concerns about her age and health. On May 5, the New York Times editorial board similarly called on Feinstein to step down.

“If she cannot fulfill her obligations to the Senate and to her constituents, she should resign and turn over her responsibilities to an appointed successor,” the editorial board wrote. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement that Feinstein “is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work. 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.”

Schumer in April floated a plan that would’ve allowed Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., to temporarily fill Feinstein’s seat on the Judiciary Committee. Senate Republicans, however, blocked the move.

Feinstein was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and before that was mayor of San Francisco for a decade.

In April, Feinstein said her return had been “delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis” but said she planned to return as soon as possible. She’s said she won’t run for reelection in 2024 but has expressed her intent to serve out the rest of her term.

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