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Dianne Feinstein's Hospitalization Raises Concerns Over Senate's Democratic Majority

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s hospitalization this week is raising concerns among some on Capitol Hill over the future of the Senate’s Democratic majority.

Feinstein, 89, confirmed this week that she is hospitalized in San Francisco with shingles, after missing multiple votes in the Senate this week.

Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body, and although it’s rarely life-threatening, the chance of getting shingles becomes much greater by the age of 70.

“I have been hospitalized and am receiving treatment in San Francisco and expect to make a full recovery,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I hope to return to the Senate later this month.”

Feinstein’s hospitalization and that of Senator John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania), has resulted in a 49-49 tie in the Senate, meaning Vice President Kamala Harris will once again be required for a tie-breaking vote. 

“She (Kamala Harris) barely could travel because of that… look… a member of the House is in the hospital because he fell off his roof,” NBC’s Chuck Todd said. “Stuff happens.”

Reports of the Senator’s declining health and mental condition, along with a push from those within her own party to replace her has resulted in progressives calling for her to resign before her term ends in January 2025.

Jessica Levinson, a professor of election law at Loyola Law School tells NBCLA that moderate Democrats may also call for Feinstein to resign if their working majority is at risk.

“Certainly, if Dianne Feinstein is out for awhile then yes… calls for her to resign may go from progressives to more moderate Democrats,” said Levinson. “But she hasn’t been out for awhile. She has been absent consistently, but she has been there for the big votes.”

Governor Gavin Newsom pledged that he would appoint a Black woman to Feinstein’s seat if she were to resign before the end of her term. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) has been viewed as a top candidate for Newsom, however she is already in the race running against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine). 

“So, would he pick somebody who is an unknown? I think that answer is yes,” Levinson said. “There is an active ongoing race, people are fundraising… and it will look like he’s taking that choice away from the voters.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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