Dianne Feinstein: Staffers Confirm Visibly Confused and Preoccupied Senator during 'Say Aye' Moment
Sen. Dianne Feinstein appeared confused during a Senate subcommittee hearing, prompting an awkward exchange with another senator.
During a Senate subcommittee hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California appeared to be visibly confused and lost track of the proceedings. This led to an awkward exchange with another senator during a routine roll call. The Senate Appropriations Committee had convened to discuss various bills, including the proposed $823 billion annual defense budget. Approximately an hour into the hearing, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who chaired the subcommittee, called for a vote to report the defense appropriations bill favorably, subject to amendment. She requested a roll call vote, and the clerk called Feinstein's name first. However, instead of casting her vote, Feinstein began giving a speech in support of the budget.
An aide huddled next to Feinstein and whispered instructions to her after her name was called. Murray can be heard telling Feinstein to "say aye," but Feinstein seemed confused and asked for clarification. Murray repeated her instruction, but Feinstein continued reading from a piece of paper. Eventually, the aide interrupted her, and Murray once again requested that she "say aye." Feinstein finally cast her vote with an "aye."
A spokesperson for Feinstein later explained that the senator was "preoccupied" due to a "chaotic" committee markup period, where they were trying to complete all the appropriations bills before recess. The spokesperson stated that the constant switching between statements, votes, and debate caused confusion, and Feinstein didn't realize that debate had ended and a vote was called. The spokesperson emphasized that Feinstein started to give a statement, was informed it was a vote, and then cast her vote.
SFGATE reached out to Murray's office to inquire about why she was instructing another senator on how to vote and whether she believed Feinstein could still effectively perform her duties. Murray's office only responded to the first question, explaining that Feinstein began with remarks indicating her support for the bill, and Murray was reminding committee members that they were on a roll call vote and not yet recognizing members who wanted to comment on any bill.
Feinstein, who recently turned 90, has faced concerns about her mental decline and fitness to serve for several years. Calls for her resignation have increased in recent months due to her extended absence from the Senate caused by various medical issues.
In a petition filed by her daughter, Katherine Feinstein, on July 17, it was claimed that Senator Feinstein incurred significant medical expenses that were not reimbursed by the trustees of her deceased husband's life insurance policy, of which she is the sole beneficiary. The trustees disputed these allegations, stating that they had not been presented with any evidence showing that Katherine Feinstein had power of attorney for her mother. The trustees' attorney questioned why a sitting United States senator would require someone to have power of attorney over her.
Overall, this incident during the Senate subcommittee hearing has brought attention to concerns about Senator Feinstein's ability to fulfill her duties effectively and has raised questions about her health and fitness to serve.