Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) returned to the Capitol on Wednesday, marking her first time back since February after a bout with shingles.
Feinstein, who arrived and was put in a wheelchair, was greeted outside by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and was led into the chamber for a late afternoon vote. She told reporters upon her arrival that she feels “much better.”
The California Democrat had been sidelined for more than two months after being hospitalized with shingles and having complications during her recovery in San Francisco.
Feinstein said in a statement just before her arrival that her doctors have advised her to work a “lighter schedule” as she continues to deal with complications during her recovery.
“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,” she said in a statement. “My doctors have advised me to work a lighter schedule as I return to the Senate.”
She flew back to Washington on Tuesday but was absent from votes that night and early Wednesday.
Her return once again gives Democrats a majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a 51-49 advantage in the full chamber.
But questions remain about whether she will appear Thursday for the panel’s weekly markup of nominations. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he was not sure whether she will be present.
Feinstein has been at the center of criticism in recent months, specifically as the Judiciary Committee canceled three straight markups and couldn’t approve nominees throughout March.
Amid continued questions about her health, multiple House members called on her to step down, saying she is no longer able to carry out her responsibilities as a lawmaker.
Feinstein, 89, is the oldest sitting senator.
She asked the Senate to replace her temporarily on the Judiciary panel last month. Republicans immediately dismissed that idea.
Even without Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee has voted through eight nominees in recent weeks, advancing them to final Senate votes. Four nominations remain stalled and need her presence to move them along.
The most prominent of those is Michael Delaney, a nominee for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who remains in limbo because of his handling of a sexual assault case at a boarding school in New Hampshire and has yet to win the required backing of all Democrats on the panel.
Feinstein announced in February she will not seek a sixth term in the upper chamber.