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Sen. Dianne Feinstein returns to Washington following an absence

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein exits from her car as she returns to the U.S. Capitol Building on May 10. She returns after months away following a shingles diagnosis.
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California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein exits from her car as she returns to the U.S. Capitol Building on May 10. She returns after months away following a shingles diagnosis.

Updated May 10, 2023 at 4:13 PM ET

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who had a prolonged absence from the Senate as she recovered from shingles, says she is still experiencing some side effects from the virus that may affect her work now that she's back in Washington.

"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," Feinstein said in a statement released Wednesday.

Before her absence, Feinstein, 89, had last voted in mid-February, and several Democrats recently called on her to resign before her term is up, including California Rep. Ro Khanna.

Her absence was severely noted in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has set a goal of surpassing the number of federal judges confirmed under former President Donald Trump.

Feinstein says she's looking forward to resuming her work on that panel, which includes consideration of President Biden's judicial nominees.

"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," she said.

Feinstein requested a temporary replacement on the committee while she recovered, but Senate Republicans blocked Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's effort to do so.

On the news of Feinstein's return on Tuesday, Schumer said he is "glad that my friend Dianne is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work. 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."

Her first floor vote upon her return Wednesday was an "aye" to support Biden's nominee for the assistant education secretary for special education and rehabilitative services

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.
Lexie Schapitl is a production assistant with NPR's Washington Desk, where she produces radio pieces and digital content. She also reports from the field and assists with production of the NPR Politics Podcast.
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