Feinstein: ‘I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), 89, told reporters Tuesday that she hadn't been away from Washington while recovering from an illness for more than two months, despite her being hospitalized and not being at the Capitol during that time.

“No, I haven’t been gone,” Feinstein said when a reporter asked her about the well-wishes her Senate colleagues have given her since she returned to the Capitol last week. “You should — I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”

The Los Angeles Times and Slate both reported on the exchange, in which Feinstein said that she is “feeling fine” after her lengthy bout with shingles.

When a reporter asked if she was referring to working from home, Feinstein reiterated that she's been in Washington. 

“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” Feinstein said. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”

A Feinstein spokesperson declined to immediately comment on the reports.

Feinstein was hospitalized and stayed away from the Capitol for weeks because of complications from shingles.

Her absence led four House Democrats, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), to call for her resignation as Democrats struggled to move judicial nominations through the Senate. Critics have argued she can no longer serve America’s most populous state effectively, given her health.

Feinstein and her office have pushed back at some suggestions, and the pressure to resign has not come from Democratic colleagues in the Senate, key allies in the House, the White House or California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

The exchange with the reporters, however, is likely to raise more scrutiny about Feinstein’s acuity — and her ability to effectively serve her state.

Feinstein has been told by doctors to maintain a lighter workload since she returned to the Capitol last week for the first time since February. 

The longtime California Democrat, a political legend in the state, announced earlier this year she would not seek another term in the Senate.

Feinstein helped Senate Democrats last week advance three judicial nominees that had been unable to move toward full Senate confirmation votes in her absence. She also took part in some Senate floor votes Wednesday and Thursday.