Yesterday, after many reporters noticed that she has not been present in Washington recently, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) issued a statement advising that she has been hospitalized for shingles. "I have been hospitalized and am receiving treatment in San Francisco," she explained, "and expect to make a full recovery. I hope to return to the Senate later this month." Shingles is, in effect, the adult version of chickenpox. It is very, very unpleasant, and while most cases resolve in a matter of a few weeks, sometimes the disease lingers on for months.
We note this news for two reasons. First, it is at least possible that this is the straw that breaks the camel's back and causes Feinstein to throw in the towel and resign her seat. A particularly serious or long-lasting outbreak might have that effect. Alternatively, if she's been looking for an "out," she could use the shingles to justify resigning, as opposed to the undoubtedly difficult-to-make admission that her mental faculties have deteriorated.
Second, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) is still hospitalized right now, so it's currently 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and Kamala Harris (who just tied John Adams for second place on the tie-breaking vote list) in Washington right now. That means that as long as both ailing Democratic senators are out, Chuck Schumer has no margin of error, and any individual defection is fatal. This could prove germane, in particular, in the case of Secretary of Labor-designate Julie Su, who is facing a tough confirmation battle. (Z)