Senator Dianne Feinstein was wheeled into the Senate chamber Wednesday around 3 p.m. Washington time, and she has revealed some more details about her current health status.
She was greeted at her car by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who heartily shook her hand and escorted her, and her wheelchair, into the Senate. She was seen on video being helped from the back of a Lexus to the wheelchair at the curb. One of her eyes appeared to be more closed than the other.
Senator Dianne Feinstein is greeted by Sen. Schumer as she arrived at the Capitol this afternoon, after her long-awaited return, despite missing a vote this morning. @mercnews pic.twitter.com/IStFuUKVJG— Harriet Blair Rowan (@HattieRowan) May 10, 2023
Senator Feinstein apparently missed two morning votes in which two appointment were confirmed — and the Senate rolls show that those were for Glenna Laureen Wright-Gallo of Nevada to be Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, Department of Education; and L. Felice Gorordo of Florida to be U.S. Alternate Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
As Bay Area News Group reports, Feinstein gave no audible response to reporters who also greeted her entering the Senate, but she did give a wave.
Feinstein's office put out a press release today, with quotes from her, about her return to the Senate and the lingering side effects of her February shingles infection, which apparently include vision and balance impairments.
The statement, in full:
"I have returned to Washington and am prepared to resume my duties in the Senate. 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.
“The Senate faces many important issues, but the most pressing is to ensure our government doesn’t default on its financial obligations. I also look forward to resuming my work on the Judiciary Committee considering the president’s judicial nominees.
“Even though I’ve made significant progress and was able to return to Washington, I’m still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus. My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate. I’m hopeful those issues will subside as I continue to recover.”
Calls for Feinstein's resignation had grown loud in recent weeks, as her absence from the Senate stretched to a third month and as tensions rose over the possibility of the federal government defaulting on its debts.
While there has been widespread talk in the last two years of Feinstein's occasional cognitive issues — sometimes short-term memory impairments, like when she asked Jack Dorsey the same question, verbatim, twice, during a November 2020 hearing. But at age 89, she was still physically fairly able to get around as of February 2023, and that appears to have changed. This would explain why she had remained absent for so long.
We learned on Tuesday that Feinstein took a private jet to Washington from San Francisco, but the reasons for not flying commercial were not clear.
Here's hoping for her continued recovery! But it hardly seems like the rumblings about replacing her will quiet much as the next 18 months (before November 2024) go on.
Top image: Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images