Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was expected to return to the Senate on Wednesday after a nearly three-month absence due to ill health, but missed the first two votes of the day.
Feinstein is expected to cast a vote Wednesday, her first recorded vote since February 16, but she has not yet been seen on Capitol Hill as of Wednesday afternoon. She missed the first two votes of the day, adding to the 91 floor votes she had previously missed as she recovered from shingles, according to an NBC News tally.
Feinstein’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters he expects Feinstein to attend the committee’s business meeting at 10 am Thursday. He said the committee plans to use his vote to inform the full Senate about some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees that have stalled due to his absence. He did not indicate which nominees he would vote for.
“I have to count the noses and also count how they’re going to vote,” Durbin said, “I can’t predict everyone will be called, I’m not sure yet.”
Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., welcomed Feinstein’s return. He said that he had been in contact with Feinstein over the past few weeks and that he can «report that she is exactly where she wants to be.»
“Ready to do what she loves the most: serve the people of California,” Schumer said.
Feinstein’s absence has complicated Democratic efforts to confirm some of Biden’s nominees, with the Judiciary Committee going from an 11-10 majority to a 10-10 deadlock during his absence.
While Senate Democrats were able to advance several of Biden’s nominees with the backing of the GOP, they had to put up with others who failed to win bipartisan support.
Democrats had tried to temporarily replace Feinstein on the committee with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., but that effort was blocked by Republicans last month, with many saying they couldn’t vote to make it easier for Biden to nominate judicial nominees to whom found to be radical or otherwise unacceptable.
Feinstein later defended her absence, questioning the idea that it impeded the number of nominees put forward by the committee.
“There has been no slowdown,” Feinstein wrote in a statement last week. “I am confident that when I return to the Senate, we will be able to quickly remove the remaining qualified candidates from the committee and bring them to the full Senate for a vote.”
Feinstein, who has served in the Senate since 1992, is the oldest member of the chamber at 89. He announced in February his plans to retire from Congress at the end of 2024 after three decades in the chamber.
The 2024 primary to fill Feinstein’s seat in a safe Democratic congressional district is expected to be a key race next year. California Representatives Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee have announced their Senate campaigns to succeed Feinstein.