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Dianne Feinstein returns to the Senate following a nearly 3-month absence and resignation calls from fellow Democrats

Sen. Dianne Feinstein arrives at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on May 10, 2023.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein arrives at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on May 10, 2023.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein returned to the US Senate on Wednesday.

  • It came after nearly 3 months away from Washington due to complications from a shingles infection.

  • Several fellow Democrats called for her to resign, arguing her absence imperiled their party's agenda.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is back at the Capitol.

The 89-year-old California Democrat returned to work this week after spending nearly 3 months away from Washington due to complications from a shingles infection.

In a statement issued through her office, Feinstein said she's "still experiencing some side effects" from the virus and would be working a "lighter schedule." Those side effects include vision and balance impairments, requiring her to use a wheelchair at times.

"I'm hopeful those issues will subside as I continue to recover," she added.

Feinstein, the oldest sitting US senator, announced days before her absence began in February that she would not seek re-election in 2024. Several Democrats are already running to succeed her, including Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.

But her prolonged absence created a deadlock on the Senate Judiciary Committee, preventing Democrats from swiftly advancing nominees to the floor that lacked Republican support.

As concerns over Feinstein's absence grew, the California Democrat agreed to step down from the committee and allow Sen. Ben Cardin — a Maryland Democrat who's also retiring after 2024 — to replace her. But Republicans blocked that effort.

Meanwhile, some House Democrats, including Reps. Ro Khanna of California, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York called on Feinstein to resign.

"Her refusal to either retire or show up is causing great harm to the judiciary," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on the social network Bluesky recently.

Feinstein arrived at the Capitol just before 3pm on Wednesday and was greeted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

She did not respond to shouted questions from reporters — though she said she was feeling "much better."

Feinstein was transferred to a wheelchair when she arrived at the Capitol

Feinstein outside the Capitol on Wednesday.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

She briefly told reporters she felt "much better"

Feinstein outside the Capitol on May 10.
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She was greeted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who led her into the Capitol building

Feinstein outside the Capitol on May 10.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

After missing two Senate votes in the morning, she made it to the third vote of the day

Feinstein at the Capitol on May 10.
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Feinstein said in a statement that she'll be keeping a 'lighter schedule' as she recovers

Feinstein at the Capitol on May 10.
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On Thursday, Feinstein attended a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first time in months

Feinstein at the Capitol on May 11.
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The senator arrived late to the meeting

Feinstein at the Capitol on May 11.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

She was greeted with a standing ovation from fellow senators

Feinstein at the Capitol on May 11.
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Her return to the Senate allowed Democrats to approve a series of nominees who lacked Republican support

Feinstein at the Capitol on May 11.
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Still heavily dependent on staff, Feinstein departed the Capitol for the week on Thursday afternoon

Feinstein at the Capitol on May 11.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

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