Sen. Dianne Feinstein had been away from the Capitol for more than two months after experiencing complications from the shingles virus.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein is flying back to Washington, her spokesman said Tuesday, after her extended absence due to the shingles virus threatened to derail Senate Democrats’ agenda.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Feinstein, who had been convalescing in the Bay Area since mid-February, boarded a charter private plane on Tuesday and could return to the Senate as early as Tuesday evening.
Adam Russell, a spokesman for the Democratic senator, confirmed she is in transit back to Washington but declined to comment further.
The senator’s protracted absence caused mounting heartburn for the Democratic majority, which has few votes to spare to confirm President Joe Biden’s Cabinet and judicial nominees, as well as potential legislation to avert a default on the national debt.
While Feinstein, 89, has contended with questions about her health and ability to serve for several years, her slow recovery from the shingles virus and related complications led some Democrats, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-San Jose) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), to call for her resignation.
Other observers, including ethics experts and progressive activists in the state, decried a lack of transparency from her office on details about her medical condition. Last week, her staff declined to give The Times a report or interview from her doctor.
Patti Crane, who is a member of the Indivisible South Bay L.A. chapter and helped coordinate a letter calling on Feinstein to resign because of her absence, welcomed the news of the senator’s return.
“We’re just thrilled that she’s well enough to climb on that chartered plane and get to Washington,” Crane said Tuesday. “It’s great that she’s been eating her Wheaties and is healthy and robust so she can keep fighting for Californians.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) said in a statement that after talking with Feinstein several times in recent weeks, “it’s clear she’s back where she wants to be and ready to deliver for California.”
“I’m glad that my friend Dianne is back in the Senate and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work,” he added.
In a statement last week, Feinstein pushed back against critiques that she was causing a backlog for the Senate Judiciary Committee and maintained she would be returning to Washington without specifying a timeline.
The Judiciary Committee is slated to meet Thursday to consider nominations to the federal bench.
Times staff writer Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu in Washington contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.