Feinstein, 89, is the Senate’s oldest member and has been hospitalized since February with shingles, a problem for Senate Democrats and their narrow majority.
“I am delighted that my friend Diane is back in the Senate ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DNY) said in a statement. “After speaking with her several times over the last few weeks, it is clear that she is ready to return to where she is and deliver to California.”
Feinstein initially said in a statement that she hoped to return by the end of March after being treated for shingles in San Francisco. However, weeks later, some congressional Democrats began calling for Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to resign from the Senate.
His absence has stalled confirmations of some of President Biden’s judicial nominees, with only a few Republican-backed judges on the panel who could pass the floor without a tiebreaking vote. His vote will also be important in negotiations to raise the debt ceiling.
Absent from Feinstein was Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard J. Crow was a challenger for Durbin (D-Ill.).
“It’s very difficult to chart a course in an evenly divided group under those circumstances,” Durbin said last week.
Once Feinstein returns, Turbin has the votes to pass legislation through her committee and issue a subpoena, which she is said to be considering in Crow’s case.
At one point, Feinstein asked Schumer to temporarily replace her on the team while she “worked from home” and recovered from singles. Senate Republicans blocked the measure last month.
Rep. Feinstein’s allies, including Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), pushed back on calls for her to retire, suggesting they saw a sexist double standard in how Feinstein’s absence was treated compared to male senators. In recent months, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rep. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) has been out for weeks for medical reasons.
Although Feinstein has raised questions about her age and ability to serve, she has shied away from major roles in recent years. She resigned as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee before the 117th Congress, when she would have been the first woman to lead the panel. Last year, Feinstein refused to consider becoming the pro-term leader of the Senate, a term that traditionally goes to the senior senator of the party in power, the third in line for the presidency. Instead, the role was played by Sen. Patty went to Murray (D-Wash.).
Feinstein announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election in 2024, after Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff launched a race for his seat between Barbara Lee and Katie Porter.