Feinstein Returns To Senate In Wheelchair, Needs ‘Lighter Schedule’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) returned to the Senate on Wednesday in a wheelchair, ending the lawmaker’s months-long absence as she recovered from shingles.

Video shows Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walking alongside Feinstein as she was being wheeled into the Senate chamber for a vote.

Liz Kreutz, a reporter for ABC7 San Francisco, tweeted that Feinstein’s office said the senator is “experiencing vision/balance impairments & at times will need to use a wheelchair to travel around the Capitol.”

It’s official: @SenFeinstein is back on Capitol Hill. Here is the moment she voted on the Senate floor. She was escorted in by @SenSchumer

Feinstein’s office says she is experiencing vision/balance impairments & at times will need to use a wheelchair to travel around the Capitol pic.twitter.com/Tf0KaTZThN

— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) May 10, 2023

A statement released by Feinstein explained her situation.

“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. I’m hopeful those issues will subside as I continue to recover.”

At the age of 89, Feinstein is the Senate’s oldest member — and in recent years, some colleagues had begun to raise concerns about her mental fitness. Feinstein announced in February she would not seek re-election in 2024. Three prominent House Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee — have announced campaigns to replace Feinstein in the Senate.

In early March, Feinstein announced she had been diagnosed with shingles and has been recovering ever since. Because Feinstein is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, her absence resulted in a 10-10 split along party lines that rendered the panel unable to advance some of President Joe Biden’s nominees to federal courts around the nation.

In recent weeks, some Democrats, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ro Khanna (D-CA), began to call for Feinstein to resign, and Republicans kept the pressure going by blocking a bid to replace Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee.

“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,” Feinstein said in her statement on Wednesday.

“The Senate faces many important issues, but the most pressing is to ensure our government doesn’t default on its financial obligations,” Feinstein added. “I also look forward to resuming my work on the Judiciary Committee considering the president’s nominees.”

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