After a recent spate of health issues forced Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein to take an extended leave of absence, the aging lawmaker inadvertently raised new concerns by apparently forgetting she had taken one.
Plagued by recent health issues and calls from her peers to resign, Feinstein’s return to the Senate has been under scrutiny even as the 89-year-old legislator took on a “lighter schedule” by order of her physician. Though participating in two votes in the Senate this week and walking out of the chamber “on her own two feet” an impromptu interview with reporters raised more concerns, Slate reported.
A couple of us reporters spoke briefly with Dianne Feinstein today. It didn’t go well. https://t.co/GhSatNyM9e
— Jim Newell (@jim_newell) May 16, 2023
When asked how her colleagues felt about her return to the Capitol, Feinstein denied she had ever left in the first place. “No, I haven’t been gone,” she reportedly told the press, adding, “You should follow the—I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”
When pressed if she meant that she had been working from home, the Senator allegedly doubled down, maintaining that she hadn’t left. “No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” she said, according to Slate. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”
In April, Democratic California Rep.Ro Khanna called on Feinstein to resign while the Senator was on an extended leave of absence due to a shingles diagnosis. “While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people,” Khanna stated at the time.
This sentiment was echoed by other representatives, including New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who stated Feinstein’s absence was causing “great harm” to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi jumped to Feinstein’s defense, slamming calls for Feinstein to resign as “sexist,” telling reporters in April she had “never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way.”
When asked how she felt about calls from resignation from her peers, Feinstein was whisked away in a wheelchair by staff members, Slate reported. (RELATED: Trembling, Confused Dianne Feinstein Asks ‘Where Am I Going?’ As She’s Rolled Back In To Work As A US Senator)
Turning to her colleague, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Slate reporter Jim Newell wondered again whether Feinstein was up to the task before her as both a committee member and a Senator. “There’s one job that no one else can do for us, which is to vote,” Blumenthal told Slate. “And she’s been doing that job in the last few days, and so far as I can tell, she’s been doing well.”