- Senator Feinstein was confused by Vice President Harris who was president of the Senate last year, according to a New York Times report.
- “What is she doing here?” Feinstein said, according to an unnamed person who was present at the time.
- Some lawmakers questioned the veteran Democratic lawmaker’s fitness for office.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California was troubled by Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over the upper house last year, with the veteran lawmaker wondering why her former Senate colleague was in the room, according to The New York Times.
The report comes as Feinstein – who has had multiple health issues this year and was asked about his fitness to stay in office until his term ends in January 2025 – has sought to reassert himself in Washington.
Feinstein, a former mayor of San Francisco who has served in the Senate since 1992, has for decades been one of Capitol Hill’s most respected voices, particularly when it comes to national security and intelligence issues.
But according to the Times report, Feinstein didn’t seem to know why Harris, who during the previous two-year term in Congress had severed many ties as Senate speaker, was taking on her constitutional role.
“What is she doing here?” Feinstein, 89, asked Harris, according to an unnamed person who was present at the time.
During the first two years of President Joe Biden’s first term, the Senate was split 50-50, requiring the president to win the support of every Democratic member to push through his most ambitious priorities. So Harris — who also served alongside Feinstein as a California senator from 2017 to 2021 — was a frequent presence in the chamber well as she was the deciding vote for many key bills and nominations.
In 2022, four lawmakers and three former Feinstein staffers told the San Francisco Chronicle that the senator’s memory was “deteriorating rapidly”, noting that the senator was no longer able to fully represent her nearly 40 million of voters without the considerable help of aides.
This year, Feinstein endured complications from shingles, which kept her out of the Senate from February to May and hampered some of Biden’s judicial nominations to a judiciary committee with a one-vote Democratic majority. Upon her return, a New York Times report later revealed that she also suffered from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a neurological disorder which, in the senator’s case, was brought on by her battle with shingles.
Rep. Ro Khanna, another Bay Area lawmaker, in April called on Feinstein to step down from office and reiterated his position this month.
“I hope people who are close to her can talk to her and just say, ‘Listen, end your service with dignity. Stand aside, let the governor appoint someone,'” he said in a recent interview with MSNBC.
Feinstein’s employees have sought to protect the senator from photographers and reporters since her return to Capitol Hill, according to the Los Angeles Times, as she seeks to reacquaint herself with her job.
Insider reached out to Feinstein’s office for comment.