UNITED STATES: Concerns about whether Senator Dianne Feinstein can perform her job adequately have resurfaced after a new report. The report comes as Feinstein returns from a prolonged medical leave of absence this month.
Democrats were furious that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee was unable to fulfil her duties at a time when the committee was attempting to mount a cogent and convincing defence of growing concerns about potential ethical violations at the Supreme Court.
According to the report, Feinstein’s instances of forgetfulness and confusion—such as her strange denial of any absence from the chamber in response to a report—that have been highlighted by other media sites in recent weeks are more frequent than previously thought.
The report highlighted one incident from last year in which the senator from California seemed perplexed as to why Kamala Harris, who was presiding over the Senate as president while serving as vice president, was in that position.
“What’s she doing here?” She is reported to have been questioned in confusion. (In a closely divided Senate, it is quite typical for a vice president to be obliged to preside over Senate business to cast tie-breaking votes.)
The report adds that, “staff members have been overheard explaining to her that she cannot leave yet because there are more votes to come… They push her wheelchair, remind her how and when she should vote, and step in to explain what is happening when she grows confused.”
The report is likely to serve as yet another piece of evidence for those who claimed that the ailing California senator should step down while she was away.
Multiple reports have detailed how Feinstein, 89, relies largely on her staff to remind her of fundamental Senate procedure and her own votes, both in the past and in the future.
Defenders of the senator have dismissed questions about her fundamental job skills as sexist and have responded by citing the continued service of male politicians who are a similar age; none, however, have shown the same consistency in having trouble remembering the most basic facts that Feinstein has.
She announced in February that she would not run for re-election in 2024. That sparked a fierce race in California, a state that is strongly supported by the Democratic Party.
The race is expected to be expensive, and it has become much more complicated as a result of the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, saying he intends to appoint a black woman to the seat should Feinstein resign early.