Feinstein Returning to US Senate, Giving Democrats Their Majority

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
May 10, 2023Congress

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) returned to work on Tuesday following a long recovery from shingles.

Her return gives back Democrats their majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as a one-seat Democrat advantage in the full Senate.

Feinstein’s office said she boarded a flight from her California home to Washington earlier on Tuesday, ahead of a Senate vote in the evening.

The longtime California Democrat was hospitalized with shingles over the February Senate recess. At the time, she said she expected to return to Congress in March.

But her longer-than-expected absence attracted criticism in recent weeks, including from within her party.

Resignation Calls Amid Shingles Recovery

Democrat House members, Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) had called on Feinstein to resign, arguing that she wasn’t able to carry out her congressional responsibilities.

By around mid-April, Feinstein made the unusual request to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee, saying her recovery was delayed due to complications. But she didn’t heed the House members’ calls to resign.

Republicans immediately rejected Feinstein’s request, saying Democrats only want someone in Feinstein’s place to push through partisan judicial nominations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee in March was unable to move several nominees through the panel and canceled three straight markups.

Currently, four nominations to fill vacant federal court positions would require Feinstein’s presence to proceed.

Feinstein also missed almost 100 floor votes during her months-long absence.

But even in her absence, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced eight nominees to final votes on the Senate floor in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Feinstein said in a statement that “there has been no slowdown.”

Oldest Sitting Senator

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said he was pleased that Feinstein has returned and is “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,” he added.

Feinstein is 89 years old, making her the oldest sitting senator. In recent years, she has faced questions regarding her cognition and memory but has defended her ability to carry out her lawmaking responsibilities.

In February, Feinstein announced she would not seek re-election in 2024. Instead, she said she intends to focus her energy in her last two years in Congress on pushing gun control measures and making sure California gets its fair share of federal funding.

Feinstein’s career has been marked by several political firsts. She was the first woman to serve as the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the 1970s. She was also the first female mayor of San Francisco.

After Feinstein joined Congress, she became the first woman to lead the Senate Intelligence Committee and the first to serve as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat.

Feinstein’s return could provide crucial support for any debt limit bill that arrives in the Senate, which would avert a first-ever U.S. debt default.

Bill Pan contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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