Dem 51
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GOP 49
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D.F. Headed back to D.C.?

This is a somewhat unorthodox bit of reporting. One of the questions that is on the mind of politics-watchers is: Whither Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)? If she's not willing to resign, is she going to be able to return to work? In particular, will she be able to get back to voting to approve judges, so they can advance to a floor vote on an 11-10 party-line vote? After all, a person can be in pretty bad shape, and yet can make a brief appearance in the Senate chamber to give a thumbs up.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been unwilling to answer questions about the plans of the most senior member of his caucus. Despite that, we know that he apparently thinks she'll be back at work within a week or so. How do we know that? This is where the reporting gets unorthodox. Schumer holds a press conference every week, to which he brings notes. Yesterday, press photographers managed to snap some pictures of his notes. And they quite clearly say: "I spoke with Sen. Feinstein yesterday. We are both hopeful she can return next week." You can see it for yourself:

It's a list of questions and potential
answers to those questions; most have to do with the debt ceiling

We rotated the picture to make it more readable; when the picture was taken, the edge where Schumer's hand is was the top edge.

So, why does Schumer need notes to remember a phone conversation he had a day earlier? Why did he prepare a note on Feinstein if he wasn't prepared to share? And why isn't he willing to share? We do not know the answers to these questions, though we certainly wish we did.

There's one other piece of information that we, at least, interpret as a sign that Feinstein will return to work at some point in the near future: Democratic officeholders continue to criticize her and call for her resignation. The latest is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who said yesterday that the Senator is harming the federal judiciary and that she owes it to the country to retire. Our presumption is that if Feinstein was going to resign, Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries would be putting a lid on their caucuses, so as to give Feinstein some space to exit on her own terms. Readers may decide for themselves how much stock they put in our reasoning.

If Feinstein does return to D.C. in May, then AOC is wrong, and the Senator's absence will have done little harm. The Senate Judiciary Committee is not that backed up, and it hasn't had to postpone any really tough votes as yet. However, if Feinstein drags her feet for a few more months, then her absence will become an actual, serious impediment. Especially if the Senate leaves for its lengthy summer break and she's not yet back. (Z)

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