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Feinstein claims there’s been ‘no slowdown’ with her absence before blaming GOP for slowdown

Dianne FeinsteinDemocratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California

Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein argued that her absence from the Senate hasn’t harmed her party.
  • The California Democrat also conceded that Republicans have used it to block some judges.
  • Feinstein vowed to return to Congress but she did not say when that would occur.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has been absent from the Senate at a critical juncture for the government, released a defiant statement on Thursday arguing that her Senate colleagues have not in fact been hamstrung by her absence from the chamber, while conceding that Republicans have leveraged it to some effect.

“The Senate continues to swiftly confirm highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary, including seven more judicial nominees who were confirmed this week,” Feinstein said in a statement released by her office. “There has been no slowdown.”

Feinstein has not been in Washington for over two months.

“While the Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced eight strong nominees during my absence, I’m disappointed that Republicans on the committee are blocking a few from moving forward,” Feinstein said.

The 89-year-old, the oldest member in the chamber, has been battling shingles while back home in California. Just weeks before her absence, she announced that she would not seek reelection after months of stories that questioned her mental facilities and her ability to serve in Congress adequately. 

In her newest statement, Feinstein expressed optimism about returning to the Senate.

Fellow Democrats have become increasingly agitated over the Californian’s absence given the party’s narrow majority both in the chamber and on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.

Her absence led to the Senate passage of a bill that overturned a Biden rule to reduce pollution from large trucks. Republicans have been able to stall some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees during Feinstein’s absence from the panel. And with the debt limit rapidly approaching, the Democrats can’t stand to lose a critical vote. 

Some of her colleagues in the House have called on her to resign.

Both political parties in recent years have put an enormous focus on confirming judicial nominees to lifetime federal appointments. In a narrowly divided Senate, confirming judges is a much easier lift than passing legislation given the 60-vote filibuster for most bills.

Feinstein’s defenders have argued that the focus on her absence is sexist, pointing to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania both of whom missed votes due to health reasons. Both McConnell and Fetterman have returned to the chamber.

It remains unclear if or when Feinstein will return to Washington. Beyond judicial nominees, Democrats are expected to face a potentially razor-thin margin on avoiding a catastrophic debt default that could come as soon as early June.

Read the original article on Business Insider