Dianne Feinstein, 89, STILL won’t say when she’ll be back at work but criticizes


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, slammed Republicans in a Thursday statement insisting that her absence from Capitol Hill was not the reason for a slowdown in judicial appointments.

Her age and frailty have been the subject of Washington rumor and calls for her to step down have accelerated during her two-month absence as she recovers from shingles.

But anyone looking for clues to when she might return will not find them in her press release.

‘While the Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced eight strong nominees during my absence, I’m disappointed that Republicans on the committee are blocking a few from moving forward,’ she said.

‘I’m confident that when I return to the Senate, we will be able to move the remaining qualified nominees out of committee quickly and to the Senate floor for a vote.’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, has been absent from the Senate since March and is facing calls for her to step down amid complaints that judges cannot be appointed

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, has been absent from the Senate since March and is facing calls for her to step down amid complaints that judges cannot be appointed

In a statement, she blasted Republican claims and said the work of the Senate carried on. But she offered no clues about when she might finally return to Congress

In a statement, she blasted Republican claims and said the work of the Senate carried on. But she offered no clues about when she might finally return to Congress

Feinstein sits on the powerful judicial committee, and some Democrats have worried aloud that her absence will stall the Biden administration’s effort to install liberal judges.

Not so, according to her office, which said the work went on.

‘The Senate has confirmed 21 district and circuit court nominees during Senator Feinstein’s absence, including seven this week,’ it said.

Anyone wanting clues will have to try harder. One pointer was spotted in Sen. Chuck Schumer’s notes this week. 

The Senate Democrats’ held a news conference on Tuesday where he did not address Feinstein’s absence, but a shot of Schumer’s notes showed he had an update from the senator. 

‘I spoke with Sen. Feinstein yesterday. We are both hopeful she can return next week,’ the document read. 

A Schumer spokesperson said: ‘It was in his notes, and he would have said if someone asked.’ 

The senator has been absent for nearly two months since she was hospitalized in early March. Her absence on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee has held up President Biden’s judicial nominations as Republicans refuse to give the nominees a majority vote to get confirmed.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer held a news conference on Tuesday where he did not address Feinstein's absence, but a shot of Schumer's notes showed he had an update from the senator

Senate Majority Leader Schumer held a news conference on Tuesday where he did not address Feinstein’s absence, but a shot of Schumer’s notes showed he had an update from the senator

Feinstein’s office would not confirm a timeline for her return. 

‘Senator Feinstein continues to make progress in her recovery, however, we don’t have a timeline yet for her return to Washington which is dependent on her medical team saying it is safe to travel,’ the spokesperson said. 

On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee held a high-profile hearing where Democrats eviscerated the Supreme Court’s lax ethics rules and some Republicans agreed the high court needed to do more to offer transparency and confidence on conflicts of interest and free perks.

Chair Dick Durbin had urged Chief Justice John Roberts to testify or appoint another member of the court to do so. But without Feinstein he could not subpoena the justice, who refused to comply. 

Meanwhile New York progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Monday that it was time for 89-year-old Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to retire, amid a lengthy absence from Congress due to ill health which has disrupted Democrats’ efforts to confirm liberal judges.

AOC is the latest member of Feinstein’s own party to call for her to go, and she shrugged off complaints that such messages were sexist.

‘I think criticisms of that stance as ‘anti-feminist’ are a farce,’ she wrote on the new social media platform Bluesky.

Democrats including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have dismissed such calls as sexist because they say men of the same age would not face the same demands. 

But there is no getting away from it – Republicans have refused to help Democrats replace Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee while she is away. 

New York progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Monday that it was time for 89-year-old Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to retire, amid a lengthy absence from Congress due to ill health which has disrupted Democrats' efforts to confirm liberal judges

New York progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Monday that it was time for 89-year-old Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to retire, amid a lengthy absence from Congress due to ill health which has disrupted Democrats’ efforts to confirm liberal judges

‘Her refusal to either retire or show up is causing great harm to the judiciary – precisely where repro rights are getting stripped,’ wrote AOC, as she made the case that Feinstein was hurting women’s rights. 

‘That failure means now in this precious window Dems can only pass GOP- approved nominees.’

It follows similar comments she made in April, after weeks of speculation about Feinstein’s frailty.

‘I think what we’re seeing is really concerning, and I think whenever a member’s health and ability to serve us brought into the spotlight, it’s very unfortunate, it’s very sad,’ she told CNN.

‘But I do think that what is happening right now, and the impact that the continued ability to serve is having on our ability to fill the courts, the impact that this is having on people’s access to abortion care, I think this is something that is — it is unfortunately something that I think it is appropriate to consider.’

It follows a ruling in Texas that threatened access to mifepristone, a common abortion pill, handed down by a conservative judge appointed under Donald Trump.

Even before shingles, the Senate’s oldest member was prone to concerning bouts of forgetfulness – with staff having to remind her about where she stood on bills and once forgetting that she had already announced her retirement in 2024. 

California Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee are already locked in a race for her seat. 

Last month Feinstein issued a statement revealing she had asked Senate Leader Chuck Schumer 'to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve' on the judiciary panel 'until I'm able to resume my committee work'

Last month Feinstein issued a statement revealing she had asked Senate Leader Chuck Schumer ‘to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve’ on the judiciary panel ‘until I’m able to resume my committee work’

Nancy Pelosi blasted calls for Senator Dianne Feinstein to resign as sexist

Nancy Pelosi blasted calls for Senator Dianne Feinstein to resign as sexist

In the meantime, allies in her own party have helped fend off calls that she should go.

‘Senator Feinstein has been a champion for California for 20 years,’ former House Speaker and fellow octogenarian Pelosi told CBS News. ‘She deserves that respect to get well and be back on duty.’

Men would not face the same calls, she added. 

‘It’s interesting to me. I don’t know what political agendas are at work that are going after Senator Feinstein in that way. I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way,’ she added.

But her absence comes at a critical time with Democrats’ holding the slimmest of Senate majorities. 

The Senate is due to hold a hearing Thursday on raising the debt ceiling, after the House passed a Republican bill last month that would increase the borrowing limit but only if it came with big spending cuts.

Any bill needs 60 votes to get through the Senate, and Feinstein’s absence reduces Democrats’ leverage by one vote. 



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