Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced that she was hospitalized on Thursday and is receiving treatment for shingles, leaving Senate Democrats without an outright majority this week as two other senators are also away from the Capitol.
Feinstein confirmed her hospitalization on Thursday after her spokesperson announced she was leaving D.C. for California to focus on a “health matter.”
“I was diagnosed over the February recess with a case of shingles. I have been hospitalized and am receiving treatment in San Francisco and expect to make a full recovery. I hope to return to the Senate later this month,” the 89-year-old California senator said.
Feinstein has missed numerous votes and committee hearings since she began feeling unwell, according to her spokesperson Adam Russell. Feinstein, who has nearly two years left in her term, announced last month that she will not seek reelection in 2024.
Feinstein is not the only Democrat senator currently absent from the upper chamber.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) has been hospitalized since mid-February, with no expected return date, as he is receiving treatment for “clinical depression.”
Further, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) flew to his home state after his mother died earlier in the week.
However, Senate Republicans are also down one member as Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) is out due to contracting the coronavirus.
Although Senate Democrats started the new congress with a 51-49 advantage, control of the Senate, this week has functionally become a 48-48 majority, forcing Vice President Kamala Harris to step up and cast multiple tie-breaking votes.
As the Washington Examiner reported:
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 49-48 in favor of one of Biden’s judicial nominees, Margaret Guzman, to become the first Hispanic federal judge in Massachusetts. Harris also had to break a 48-48 deadlock on Tuesday to confirm Araceli Martinez-Olguin to serve as a federal judge in the Northern District of California.
White House deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton reportedly refused to comment on whether President Joe Biden’s administration is concerned that some Democrat senators’ absences may derail the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominee to run the Department of Labor, Julie Su.