Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), 89, appears to have forgotten that she spent the last three months in California recovering from shingles.
“No, I haven’t been gone,” she told reporters on Tuesday after being asked how her colleagues have treated her since she returned to the Senate last week. Feinstein had been recovering at home since her diagnosis in February and returned to the Capitol in a wheelchair, with her hand “visibly trembling” and her eyes bloodshot, the Huffington Post reported.
“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” Feinstein replied. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”
Feinstein’s health issues are a problem for Senate Democrats, especially on the Judiciary Committee, where her vote is necessary to approve White House judicial nominees. Her prolonged absence led some Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), to call for her resignation. Feinstein defied the calls and is back in Washington, D.C., albeit working a lighter schedule.
Feinstein said in February that she will retire after this term but then appeared to soon forget she had made the announcement.
Tuesday’s exchange comes after a new book detailed how Feinstein confused one black senator for another. In 2021, she approached Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.), who has been in the Senate since 2013, and “stuck out her hand, and told him she had been rooting for him and was so happy to have him serving with her in the Senate.” Scott and his team said that “Feinstein had mistaken the South Carolinian for Raphael Warnock, the newly elected Democratic senator from Georgia.”
Eighty-year-old president Joe Biden also faces concerns about his mental health. Frequent verbal slip-ups and stumbles have led a chunk of Democratic voters to have little faith in his ability to carry out a second term—at the end of which he would be 86 years old.
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