According to a recent report that details the challenges the ailing politician encounters as she continues her duties in the Senate, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) reportedly voiced bewilderment last year while Vice President Harris was presiding over the Senate to cast a tiebreaking vote.
Following bouts with encephalitis and shingles earlier this year, Senator Feinstein, who is 89 years old, has returned to work, and a new piece from The New York Times details the various responsibilities that her staff is assuming now that she is back at work.
However, the Harris incident is said to have taken place around a year ago, and it serves as an illustration of the difficulty that Feinstein has had, at times, recalling the fundamentals of how the Senate runs. In one of the many instances in which the vice president has been required to cast a tiebreaking vote, Senator Feinstein is said to have voiced surprise and uncertainty to her fellow senators when she observed Harris presiding over the chamber.
“What is she doing here?” Feinstein asked, according to the report. The report cites “a person who witnessed the scene.”
There have been rumors about Feinstein’s memory problems for more than a year now. And since she returned to the Senate after being absent for several months due to her illness, the Democratic senator from California seems frailer than she did in the past and relies more on her staff for assistance in doing her work duties.
Feinstein made the announcement in February that she will not seek reelection in 2024, but she stated that she would complete the remaining time on her current term in office. During her extended leave, several Democrats started asking for her to quit, but ever since she has returned to work, the momentum behind those calls has cooled down significantly.
Leaving aside other difficulties with Feinstein, she recently did not appear to be aware that she was away from Washington or missed any votes in committee or on the Senate floor,
Jim Newell of Slate and Benjamin Oreskes of the Los Angeles Times said that Feinstein and them shared an interesting elevator ride on Tuesday afternoon.
From Slate’s report:
I encountered Feinstein coming off an elevator, sitting in a wheelchair and flanked by staff. It’s been hard to find the senator since her return; she’s kept her movements mostly to the least-populated passageways and skipped luncheons and non-urgent committee hearings.
I asked her how she was feeling.
“Oh, I’m feeling fine. I have a problem with the leg.” A fellow reporter staking out the elevator asked what was wrong with the leg.
“Well, nothing that’s anyone concern but mine,” she said.
When the fellow reporter asked her what the response from her colleagues had been like since her return, though, the conversation took an odd turn.
“No, I haven’t been gone,” she said.
“You should follow the—I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”
When asked whether she meant that she’d been working from home, she turned feisty.
“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” she said. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”
After deflecting one final question about those, like Rep. Ro Khanna, who’ve called on her to resign, she was wheeled away.