California Sen. Dianne Feinstein cast her first votes in nearly three months on Wednesday after a prolonged absence from the Senate due to illness. 

What You Need To Know

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein cast her first Senate votes in nearly three months on Wednesday after a prolonged absence from the Capitol

  • Feinstein, who was greeted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is using a wheelchair to traverse the Capitol as she continues recovering vision and balance problems that presented as complications of shingles

  • Her doctors have advised that she "maintain a lighter schedule" as she recovers

  • Feinstein, 90, has announced that she will not seek reelection in 2024; fellow members of Congress have called for her resignation

Feinstein arrived at the Capitol in a silver sedan, where her staff and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer greeted her. 

“Hello Dianne,” Schumer greeted the senior senator of California. “Hi Chuck,” replied Feinstein, shielding her eyes to look up at Schumer. 

Feinstein is using a wheelchair around the Capitol as she continues her recovery. Her office says she is still experiencing some balance and vision problems after combatting a case of shingles, a disease caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Shingles most often presents as a painful, blistering rash that travels along nerves. Risk for the disease increases as one ages — about half of cases occur in people over age 50, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

A group of reporters waiting for the senator asked how she was feeling, to which she replied “much better,” but she would not answer any other questions about why she was returning now.

Her doctors have advised “that she maintain a lighter schedule” while she continues her recovery, though what that looks like remains unclear. 

Feinstein cast two votes on Wednesday, then left before another set of votes. 

Feinstein, who turns 90 next month, was last in the Capitol on Feb. 16, just two days after her announcement that she would not seek re-election. 

Her time away from the upper chamber led to calls for her to resign from some Democrats, including fellow Californian, Rep. Ro Khanna — who has endorsed Rep. Barbara Lee to succeed Feinstein — and at least one Republican presidential candidate.

Since Feb. 16, Feinstein missed 93 total votes — a crucial issue for Senate Democrats as they seek to hold onto a 51-49 caucus advantage over Republicans. In particular, Feinstein’s absence from the Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed the nomination of federal judges, in part leading to those calls for resignation.

In response, Feinstein requested that a temporary replacement be appointed to vote in her stead, though Republicans rejected that proposal in short order.

“The Senate continues to swiftly confirm highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary, including seven more judicial nominees who were confirmed this week. There has been no slowdown,” Feinstein said in a statement on May 4.