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Sen. Feinstein returns to Senate after shingles diagnosis

After missing 95 votes in a row, Sen. Feinstein has returned, giving Democrats a bit more breathing room in the nearly evenly divided Senate.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is pushed in a wheelchair, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, at the U.S. Capitol.
Posted at 7:42 AM, May 11, 2023

Sen. Dianne Feinstein made her return to the Senate on Wednesday after being diagnosed with shingles on Feb. 26, as Democrats were clamoring for her return to the nearly evenly divided body. 

Feinstein voted on a pair of federal nominations to office. 

Her last recorded vote was on Feb. 16. Since then, she has missed 95 votes in the Senate, as Democrats have just a 51-49 edge in the chamber. Just as important, however, is the fact that she has missed critical votes on the Judiciary Committee, which has caused many of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees to remain in committee. 

Without her vote on the Judiciary Committee, some Democrats, like Rep. Ro Khanna, called on Feinstein to resign so Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could replace her spot on the committee. Schumer attempted to temporarily replace her on the committee, but those efforts were blocked by Republicans.

Feinstein was briefly hospitalized on March 6, but spent much of her recovery at home. Her office says that she is still experiencing temporary side effects, including vision and balance impairments, and will occasionally require the use of a wheelchair.

“I have returned to Washington and am prepared to resume my duties in the Senate,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I’m grateful for all the well-wishes over the past couple of months and for the excellent care that I received from my medical team in San Francisco.”

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Feinstein said she was advised to work a lighter schedule in Washington. 

“The Senate faces many important issues, but the most pressing is to ensure our government doesn’t default on its financial obligations,” she said. “I also look forward to resuming my work on the Judiciary Committee considering the president’s judicial nominees.”

Feinstein, who turns 90 next month, is the oldest active senator, three months older than Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. 

Feinstein announced earlier this year that she will not seek reelection in 2024.