Last week, California Senator Dianne Feinstein returned to the Senate for the first time since early March when she was hospitalized for shingles, CBS News reported.
Feinstein was escorted into the Capitol in a wheelchair, where she told reporters that she felt “much better.” She appeared briefly on the Senate floor where she cast her first vote since February 16.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that Feinstein’s illness was much worse than previously disclosed.
According to the Times, Senator Feinstein suffered complications from her bout with shingles, including encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain, and Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which affects the nerves of the face causing facial paralysis.
The senator’s office confirmed that Ramsay Hunt and encephalitis were among the several complications Feinstein suffered from her shingles diagnosis.
The 89-year-old Senator is the oldest serving member of the US Senate and her recent extended absence has prompted concerns among some Democrats who believe Feinstein should resign rather than wait until January 2025 to retire.
This week, two reporters questioned Senator Feinstein about her return to the Senate after her long absence, and the senator’s responses ignited new concerns about her cognitive health.
Los Angeles Times reporter Ben Oreskes asked Feinstein what the response from her colleagues has been to her return. A confused Feinstein didn’t know what he was talking about.
When Oreskes asked her about her extended absence, the California senator insisted that she hasn’t been away, adding, “I’ve been working.”
When Oreskes asked if she meant she was working from home, Feinstein insisted that she has been in DC and “I’ve been voting.”
Reporters are leaping on Feinstein’s ill health and confusion, grilling California lawmakers about her condition.
When asked to give his take on Feinstein’s health, California Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar told reporters that he wouldn’t comment on how she is doing because he doesn’t have a medical degree.