Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California insisted Tuesday she had not been gone from Washington despite not being at the Capitol for most of the past three months, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Feinstein was hospitalized after a shingles diagnosis in late February, and complications from the ailment kept her in San Francisco until her return to D.C. last week.
Her lengthy absence — and Democrats’ concerns about the votes she missed — intensified talk that Feinstein, who will be 90 next month, is no longer able to carry out her duties.
The senator, who moved about the Capitol in a wheelchair upon her return, was asked about the reception she received from her Senate colleagues as she exited an elevator Tuesday.
“What have I heard about what?” she said.
“About your return,” the reporter replied.
“I haven’t been gone,” she said. “You should … I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”
“You’ve been working from home is what you’re saying?” the reporter said.
“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting. Please, either know or don’t know.”
Slate reported Feinstein “deflected” a question about those who have called upon her to resign.
She had earlier told a reporter she was “feeling fine” but had “a problem with the leg,” according to the New York Post.
When the senator was asked what was the matter, she replied that it was “nothing that’s anyone’s concern but mine.”
Last month, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California said Feinstein, who has said she will not run in 2024, should resign.
“We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut spoke up in Feinstein’s defense. Blumenthal, 77, has walked with a cane since falling at a parade celebrating the NCAA basketball championship won by the University of Connecticut.
“The important point is she had to do what was right for her health, as I have discovered most recently,” he said, according to the Times. “There’s one job that no one else can do for us, which is to vote. And she’s been doing that job in the last few days, and so far as I can tell, she’s been doing well.”
But back home, her supporters are torn.
“Everybody is so diplomatic. I think she needs to take care of herself, and you can’t take care of yourself with that intense responsibility. Something comes first — either taking care of yourself or taking care of your constituents,” Democratic donor Susie Tompkins Buell said, according to the Times.
“I know she likes being there, I know she’s a fighter. But I feel like for the bigger picture, for a better future for all of us, I think she should resign. It’s an act of honor to do that,” she said.
Democrat Donna Perkins said Feinstein’s plight tugs at her emotions but logic must prevail.
“I don’t want to be like that, right? I’m getting ready to turn 65. I want somebody to say, ‘Hey, Donna, you know what? It’s time to pass the torch.’ It’s sad, but it’s not fair either,” she said.This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.