WASHINGTON — California Sen. Dianne Feinstein will return to the Senate after a nearly three-month absence due to ill health, according to a spokesperson for the senator.
Feinstein is expected to cast his vote on Wednesday. – his first recorded vote since February 16 – after missing 91 votes on the floor while recovering from shingles, according to an NBC News tally.
With Democrats holding only a single-seat advantage in the Senate, Feinstein’s absence complicated her party’s efforts to confirm some of President Joe Biden’s nominees. His absence was most pronounced on the Judiciary Committee, where an 11-10 majority turned into a 10-10 deadlock, thwarting Democratic efforts to confirm some justices and scuttling any plans to issue subpoenas in a party line voting.
An effort by Democrats to temporarily replace Feinstein on the committee with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., was blocked by Republicans last month, with many saying they couldn’t vote to make it easier for Biden to seat judicial nominees who found to be radical or otherwise unacceptable.
Feinstein later questioned that his absence would have in any way limited the number of nominees put forward by the committee.
“There has been no slowdown,” Feinstein wrote in a statement last week after the Judiciary Committee put forward seven less controversial nominees on a bipartisan basis. “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.”
While Feinstein was sidelined, Senate Republicans were able to pass a measure that aims to repeal the new air pollution standards in a 50-49 vote, with the help of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. President Biden is expected to veto it.
At 89, Feinstein is the longest-serving member of the Senate and had already announced her intention to retire when her term ends, in early 2025. She has served in the Senate since 1992.
The primary to fill Feinstein’s safe Democratic seat will likely be one of the main races next year, and his prolonged absence from the upper house has prompted some calls for him to resign early so Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom can take his seat. by appointment immediately. .
Those calls, which Feinstein’s defenders have denounced as sexist and discriminatory, may now be silenced by her return.
frank thorp contributed.