Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is on her way back to Washington and could return to Senate votes as soon as Tuesday night, her spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost.
The news was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday.
Feinstein hasn’t cast a Senate vote since mid-February, when she contracted shingles. Her monthslong recovery and absence have slowed Democrats’ ability to get business done, given their tight 51-49 majority. In particular, her time away has been felt on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Democrats unable to advance some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees without her there.
The 89-year-old veteran senator is set to retire at the end of next year. But during her absence, some House Democrats, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ro Khanna (Calif.), have called on her to resign now to ensure that her seat remains actively filled so Democrats can keep plowing ahead with confirming Biden’s judges.
“I am very glad that Senator Feinstein is feeling better and hopeful that she will be able to fulfill her duties upon her return,” Khanna said in a Tuesday statement.
“The people of California deserve strong representation and a Senator who can vote to advance President Biden’s judicial nominees and protect Americans’ fundamental rights,” he said. “The three-month absence hurt our agenda, and time will tell on the future.”
No Senate Democrats have called on Feinstein to retire early, despite concerns about her health and not knowing when she would return. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has responded to questions about the impact of her absence by simply wishing her a speedy recovery.
“I’m glad that my friend Dianne is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work,” Schumer said in a Tuesday statement. “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.”
On Thursday, Feinstein issued a defiant statement in response to people suggesting her absence has slowed Democrats’ progress in advancing Biden’s court picks.
“There has been no slowdown,” Feinstein said, pointing instead at Republicans for blocking a few nominees from moving forward with the Judiciary Committee.
Her office released a list of district and circuit court nominees who have been confirmed in her absence, with more nominees who have bipartisan support awaiting consideration on the Senate floor. Four nominees on that list do not have bipartisan support in the committee, however, and Democrats haven’t been able to advance them without Feinstein.