After being sidelined for months by a bout of shingles and facing mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to get back to work soon or resign, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was traveling Tuesday back to work at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Feinstein’s press secretary, Adam Russell, confirmed Tuesday she was traveling back to Washington to resume her Senate duties but had no further comment or statement. Feinstein had posted no update on her situation on her social media accounts.
The San Francisco Chronicle, citing unnamed “sources close to the senator,” said Feinstein had “boarded a chartered private plane Tuesday” on her way back to Washington.
Feinstein in early March said she’d been hospitalized for shingles, a painful viral rash that can strike older adults who’ve had chickenpox. On March 7, she said she was recovering at home and looked forward to returning to the Senate “as soon as possible.”
But as weeks went by with no further updates, she faced mounting pressure to give a timeline for her return or resign and allow Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint a Democratic replacement. Feinstein’s absence in the narrowly split Senate has held up some judicial appointment,
That pressure ticked up in the last week, with the New York Times urging Feinstein to declare a return timetable or step down and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee on which Feinstein sits, telling CNN that “the business of the committee and of the Senate is affected by her absence.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, had suggested Feinstein’s possible return this week, and Durbin told CNN on Sunday that he hoped that was true.
The question now: will Feinstein’s return quiet the gossipy intra-party sniping about her age and health as California’s senior senator rides out the remainder of her final term and ends her 30-year Senate career. She said in February she wouldn’t seek re-election in 2024 — after Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff announced they’d run for her seat.
At 89, Feinstein is the Senate’s oldest member, and has been rocked by recent articles questioning whether she remains mentally sharp enough to fulfill her duties.
Progressive Democrats like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ro Khanna of Santa Clara have openly called for her to step down.
Even so, most Democratic colleagues at least publicly have been reluctant to question Feinstein’s age and ability to fulfill her duties. Sixteen Senators, including Durbin, are 75 years or older, and three others besides Feinstein are over 80. And President Joe Biden, 80, has also faced growing questions about his mental
Check back for updates to this developing story.