Los Angeles Politics

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is heading back to Washington

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is flying back to Washington, her spokesman said Tuesday, after her extended absence due to the shingles virus threatened to derail Senate Democrats’ agenda.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Feinstein, who had been convalescing in the Bay Area since mid-February, boarded a charter private plane on Tuesday and could return to the Senate as early as this evening.

Adam Russell, a spokesman for the Democratic senator, confirmed she is in transit back to Washington but declined to comment further.

The senator’s protracted absence caused mounting heartburn for the Democratic majority, which has few votes to spare to confirm President Biden’s Cabinet and judicial nominees, as well as potential legislation to avert a default on the national debt.

While Feinstein has contended with questions about her health and ability to serve for several years, her slow recovery from the shingles virus and related complications led some Democrats, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-San Jose) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), to call for her resignation.

Other observers, including ethics experts and progressive activists in the state, decried a lack of transparency from her office on details about her medical condition. Last week, her staff declined to give The Times a report or interview from her doctor.

In a statement last week, Feinstein pushed back against critiques that she was causing a backlog for the Senate Judiciary Committee and maintained she would be returning to Washington without specifying a timeline.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to meet to consider nominations this Thursday.

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