Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is set to return to Washington for work Tuesday for the first time since February, handing Democrats back their majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee and their one-seat advantage in the full chamber.
Adam Russell, a Feinstein spokesperson, confirmed to The Hill she boarded a flight to Washington earlier on Tuesday. The Senate is set to vote this evening.
Feinstein, 89, has been sidelined since the February recess after she was hospitalized with shingles.
The longtime California Democrat has been at the center of criticism in recent months, as the Judiciary Committee canceled three straight markups and was unable to move several nominees through the panel in March.
Four sitting House members — Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) — called on her to resign and argued she was no longer able to carry out her responsibilities as a lawmaker. Feinstein is the oldest sitting senator.
In response, Feinstein asked for the Senate to temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee, an idea Republicans immediately shot down.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters last week he was hopeful Feinstein would return to the Capitol by this week, and on Tuesday, he lauded her return.
“I’m glad that my friend Dianne is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work. After talking with her multiple times over the past few weeks, it’s clear she’s back where she wants to be and ready to deliver for California,” he said.
Even without Feinstein, the Judiciary panel has advanced eight nominees in recent weeks to final votes on the Senate floor. Four nominations remain stalled and need her presence to proceed.
The most prominent of those is Michael Delaney, a nominee for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, who remains stuck over his handling of a sexual assault case at a boarding school in New Hampshire and has yet to win the required backing of all Democrats on the panel.
For more than a month, Democrats were down two members with Feinstein and Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) both absent. Fetterman returned last month after being treated for clinical depression.
Feinstein announced in February she will not seek a sixth term in the upper chamber. Her mental acuity had come into question in recent years, and she has rolled back her workload. She stepped aside in 2021 as the leading Democrat on the Judiciary Committee after receiving heavy criticism for her handling of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination.
She also declined to take on the role of Senate president pro tempore, which is third in line for the presidency and typically bestowed to the most senior member of the majority party. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) instead filled that post.
Updated at 3:49 p.m.