New information regarding the health of a senior senator of the United States raises concerns about her continued service in Congress.
In response to an inquiry from The New York Times, a representative for Sen. Dianne Feinstein verified on Thursday that the senator’s recent health-related absence from the Senate was more severe than previously believed.
Feinstein returned to Washington earlier this month after a two-month medical leave to undergo treatment for shingles.
During her absence, the 89-year-old Democrat Feinstein was diagnosed with the encephalitis-related shingles complication.
According to the Times, the rare condition can impair the mental state of its victims, causing memory problems, confusion, and difficulty walking.
Feinstein also encountered Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a zoster complication.
The disorder can result in facial, balance, and visual impairments.
Since her return, Feinstein’s health and fitness to serve in the Senate have been scrutinized.
The 30-year Senate veteran has re-entered the chamber in a wheelchair.
Dianne Feinstein, 89, has returned to the US Senate for the first time since she got shingles in February. pic.twitter.com/i1SRlTwepC
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) May 10, 2023
According to the Times, she has been overheard discussing ongoing medical issues with her eyes.
In one conversation, Feinstein appeared oblivious of her absence from the Senate.
“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” the California Democrat said in response to a question about working from home upon her return, according to The Hill.
In a statement provided to the Times, Feinstein’s office dismissed concerns about her health.
“I’m back in Washington, voting and attending committee meetings while I recover from complications related to a shingles diagnosis. I continue to work and get results for California.”
Several members of Feinstein’s own political party have demanded that she resign, disputing her ability to perform the demanding duties of a United States senator while requiring ongoing medical care.
Because Senator Feinstein was absent, the Senate overturned a Biden rule that would cut pollution from heavy duty trucks and causes harm to people’s lungs. We are putting decorum over democracy and our values. It’s time for Senator Feinstein to step down gracefully. https://t.co/qmNsJO671a
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) April 27, 2023
Feinstein’s cognitive acuity was questioned prior to her February absence from the Senate.
The oldest member of Congress announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election in 2024.