Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has returned to the Capitol after an extended absence while recovering from shingles.
Feinstein, 89, issued a statement Wednesday saying she has been advised by her doctors to work a “lighter schedule.”
“Even though I’ve made significant progress and was able to return to Washington, I’m still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus. My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate. I’m hopeful those issues will subside as I continue to recover,” she said.
Feinstein returned to the Capitol using a wheelchair, telling reporters she was feeling “much better.”
Feinstein said in April that her return to Washington had been “delayed due to continued complications related to my diagnosis” but said she planned to return to the Senate “as soon as possible once my medical team advises that it’s safe for me to travel.”
During her absence, the California senator faced pressure to return to Washington and calls from several House Democrats to resign. Feinstein sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and without her vote on the panel, Democrats said that they would have to delay some of President Biden’s key judicial nominees.
Feinstein said in her Wednesday statement that she “look(s) forward to resuming my work on the Judiciary Committee considering the president’s judicial nominees.”
In April, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California became the first member of Congress to call on Feinstein to resign.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she believes Feinstein “should retire.” The New York Democrat posted on the social media platform Bluesky, “Her refusal to either retire or show up is causing great harm to the judiciary.”
During her absence, Feinstein pushed back on the criticism, arguing that there had not been a significant delay in advancing and confirming judicial nominees.
In April, the California senator asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee, and he proposed that Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin take her spot. But Senate Republicans blocked the effort, saying the move would allow judicial nominees they opposed to advance.
The committee’s top GOP member, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, said at the time, “She’s a dear friend, and we hope for her speedy recovery and return back to the Senate. (But) with all due respect, my colleague, Senator Schumer, this is about a handful of judges that you can’t get the votes for.”
During her absence, several of her Republican colleagues accused Democrats of trying to force her into retirement. “They should leave her alone. She’s sick. She needs to get well so she can get back to work,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is also 89, said. Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy told reporters that “the people that are trying to shove her out the door after her years of service ought to hide their heads in a bag. She’s being treated very shabbily and that really disappoints me.”
Feinstein announced earlier this year that she will not run for reelection in 2024. A number of Democrats, including Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee have already announced they will run for the open seat in what is shaping up to be a competitive Democratic primary.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed.