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Senator Dianne Feinstein briefly hospitalised after fall

Questions about senator’s ability to serve have mounted in recent months

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 09 August 2023 16:47 BST
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Feinstein corrected, told to 'just say aye' at Senate hearing

Senator Dianne Feinstein was briefly hospitalised on Tuesday after suffering what a spokeperson said was a “minor fall” in her California home.

The fall, first reported by TMZ, is just the latest incident in a climbing number of health-related issues that have troubled the 90-year-old Ms Feinstein in recent months and is likely to contribute to growing concerns about her ability to serve.

The senior California lawmaker only recently returned to Congress after an extended absence due to illness; that departure left Democrats unable to subpoena members of the Supreme Court for a spring hearing about ethics in the nation’s highest judicial authority — though it’s unclear whether she and others on the panel had the stomach for such a move to begin with.

“Senator Feinstein briefly went to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a precaution after a minor fall in her home. All of her scans were clear and she returned home,” a spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ms Feinstein is set to retire at the end of her term next year. Her succession has sparked a major primary fight in the state of California, with three prominent members of California’s congressional delegation all vying for the job.

Her staff, meanwhile, remains adamant that the aging senator remains active and completely able to perform her duties. Those assertions have brushed up sharply against reports in the media of her frequent bouts of confusion throughout the halls of Congress, including numerous instances where she has been heard asking aides where they are guiding her and a recent episode during a committee hearing when the senator began calling for a vote that was already underway.

Defenders of the Democratic veteran have claimed that criticisms of her performance and reports of her bouts of confusion are rooted in sexism, arguing that the same concerns are not applied equally to male politicians of similar ages.

To be clear, those criticisms are far from only centred around Ms Feinstein; they recently were vocalised in regards to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell by Republicans like Nikki Haley after the former appeared to freeze and become unable to speak at a press conference, before being led away by a colleague.

The latest news about Ms Feinstein comes only a week after it was revealed in a news report that she has ceded power of attorney to her daughter.

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