Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday defending herself following a report earlier this week citing multiple, fellow Democrat senators and former staffers who said she may no longer be mentally fit to serve in the Senate due to ongoing memory decline.
The 88-year-old Feinstein said in a lengthy statement the real question is “whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am.”
She also wrote: “I remain committed to do what I said I would when I was reelected in 2018: fight for Californians, especially on the economy and the key issues for California of water and fire. While I have focused for much of the past year on my husband’s health and ultimate passing, I have remained committed to achieving results and I’d put my record up against anyone’s.
Progressives in the state and others have recently suggested that its time for Feinstein to relinquish her roughly 30-year hold on the seat and allow others in the state party to move up the ranks.
In her letter, Feinstein also argues that in the past few months she led the reauthorization of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, secured more direct government funding for her state than any other Democratic senator other than the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and secured additional funding to retain federal firefighters to help California prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.
Richard Blum, Feinstein’s financier husband, died earlier this year following a cancer battle.
An article published earlier this week in the San Francisco Chronicle anonymously cited four senators, a House Democrat, and several former staffers all of whom say Feinstein’s memory is noticeably deteriorating, which raises significant questions about her ability to govern effectively. A number of instances of uncomfortable social exchanges, and conversations with lawmakers whose names Feinstein could not remember mid-conversation were detailed.
The report also noted that it is unclear Feinstein can conduct her Senate duties without significant staff assistance. She is often seen being escorted to-and-from Senate votes in the Capitol by a staffer.
Rumors of Feinstein’s alleged decline have been circulating around the capital for several years. And in 2021, retired California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer said from “my perspective, I want you to know I’ve had very productive years away from the Senate doing good things. So put that into the equation,” when speaking about Feinstein’s desire to continue serving.
Feinstein has previously indicated that she plans to stay on for her full six-year term, which ends in early 2025.