Speed Reads

She's Back

Sen. Dianne Feinstein returns to D.C. after extended absence, Democratic tensions

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) flew back to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday evening from San Francisco, where she had been recuperating after being hospitalized with shingles in mid-February. Feinstein's extended hiatus had prompted a handful of Democrats to call for her to resign and was felt especially keenly on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was deadlocked with 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans in her absence. That prevented Democrats from advancing a number of President Biden's judicial nominees to the full Senate for confirmation.

"I'm glad that my friend Dianne is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "After talking with her multiple times over the past few weeks, it's clear she's back where she wants to be and ready to deliver for California."

Feinstein, 89, is the oldest U.S. senator by a few months, and has said she will retire when her term ends in 2024. She missed 91 votes since she got ill, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, including one Tuesday night. Under fire from some Democrats and liberal activists, Feinstein had requested the Senate temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee, but Republicans blocked the move. Her return will restore the Democrats' two-seat majority, which may prove crucial as Washington tries to reach agreement about raising the debt ceiling.