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Confused Feinstein Asks Why Kamala Was Presiding Over Senate, Asks Who She Is

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Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) reportedly expressed perplexity last year when Vice President Harris was presiding over the Senate to cast a tiebreaking vote, according to a recent report detailing the difficulties the ailing politician faces as she continues to perform her Senate duties.

Senator Feinstein, who is 89 years old, has returned to work following episodes with encephalitis and herpes zoster earlier this year. A recent article from The New York Times details the various responsibilities that her staff is assuming now that she is back at work.

However, the Harris incident is said to have occurred roughly a year ago, and it serves as an example of the difficulty Feinstein has occasionally had recalling the fundamentals of how the Senate operates. In one of the numerous instances in which the vice president was required to cast a tie-breaking vote, Senator Feinstein reportedly expressed astonishment and ambiguity to her colleagues upon observing Senator Harris presiding over the Senate.

“What is she doing here?” Feinstein asked, according to the report. The report cites “a person who witnessed the scene.”

Since more than a year ago, Feinstein’s memory problems have been the subject of rumors. And since she returned to the Senate after being absent for several months due to her illness, the California Democrat senator appears frailer and relies more on her staff for assistance with her work duties than she did previously.

Feinstein announced in February that she would not seek reelection in 2024, but she stated that she would serve out the remainder of her current term. During her extended absence, a number of Democrats began calling for her resignation, but since her return to work, the momentum behind these calls has significantly waned.

Feinstein recently did not appear to be aware that she missed votes in committee or on the Senate floor while absent from Washington or that she was absent for other reasons.

Tuesday afternoon, Feinstein shared an elevator ride with Jim Newell of Slate and Benjamin Oreskes of the Los Angeles Times, according to their accounts.

From Slate’s report:

I encountered Feinstein coming off an elevator, sitting in a wheelchair and flanked by staff. It’s been hard to find the senator since her return; she’s kept her movements mostly to the least-populated passageways and skipped luncheons and non-urgent committee hearings.

I asked her how she was feeling.

“Oh, I’m feeling fine. I have a problem with the leg.” A fellow reporter staking out the elevator asked what was wrong with the leg.

“Well, nothing that’s anyone concern but mine,” she said.

When the fellow reporter asked her what the response from her colleagues had been like since her return, though, the conversation took an odd turn.

“No, I haven’t been gone,” she said.


“You should follow the—I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”

When asked whether she meant that she’d been working from home, she turned feisty.

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

After deflecting one final question about those, like Rep. Ro Khanna, who’ve called on her to resign, she was wheeled away.

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