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Feinstein Returns to Senate, Casting First Vote in Months | Politics

Sen. Dianne Feinstein returned to the Senate on Wednesday, voting for the first time in nearly three months after a prolonged health absence kept her away from Washington and sparked calls for her resignation.

Pressure has mounted in recent weeks for the California Democrat, who has been recovering from complications related to a shingles diagnosis in February, to return to the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority. Feinstein, 89, holds a seat on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, where her vote is needed to swiftly confirm President Joe Biden’s judicial appointments, among other priorities. Without it, even members of her own party seemed to grow impatient as her absence stretched on.

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Feinstein asked to step down from the committee last month, after a handful of Democrats called for her resignation. But Senate Republicans blocked an attempt to temporarily replace Feinstein on the panel. Meanwhile, Feinstein drew more criticism for her absence as Democrats on the committee sought to secure the testimony of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who may have been subpoenaed had Feinstein sealed their majority, as ethics questions began swirling at the high court.

The oldest sitting senator returned to Washington earlier this week and was assisted in a wheelchair to cast a vote on Wednesday. She noted in a statement that, although she’s prepared to resume her work in the Senate, she has yet to fully recover.

“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,” Feinstein said. “My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer celebrated Feinstein’s return earlier on Wednesday in remarks from the Senate floor.

“It’s so good to see her back here in the Senate ready to get back to work,” he said. “Ready to do the thing she loves most – serving the people of California.”

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