Sen. Dianne Feinstein Announces Return To Capitol

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein will return to Congress after more than two months of medical leave, her office announced Tuesday.

Feinstein, who was hospitalized in March with shingles, missed 91 floor votes and frustrated colleagues with her absence. Her return was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. The oldest Democrat in the upper chamber, Feinstein will retire at the end of the 118th Congress.

The 89-year-old has served in the upper chamber since 1992, when she won a special election to complete the term of Republican Pete Wilson, who resigned to become California governor. Feinstein sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, although Democrats attempted to temporarily replace her in a bid to more quickly move judicial nominees. Republican senators objected to the move.

Several Democratic representatives, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have begun calling on Feinstein to resign and allow Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to pick her replacement. Others, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have chalked up the calls to sexism. (RELATED: Adam Schiff Will Get Big Endorsement From Pelosi In Senate Race… On One Condition)

Feinstein has faced questions about her mental faculties for several years. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2022 that staffers carry out the vast majority of her duties, and that she will fail to recognize longtime colleagues. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York passed over her to be top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2021, and Democratic Washington Sen. Patty Murray was named president pro tempore in 2023 despite Feinstein having more seniority.