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Biden confident in Sen. Dianne Feinstein amid aging worries, Psaki says

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that some lawmakers believe she is unfit to serve.

CALIFORNIA, USA — The White House weighed in on the status of Senator Dianne Feinstein on Monday saying President Joe Biden has confidence in her.  

"She's a longtime friend, a proud public servant, and someone who has long enjoyed serving with and working with," Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Feinstein is under pressure as a report by the San Francisco Chronicle paints a picture of a senator in her late 80s facing cognitive decline. 

Members of Congress said it’s an open secret on Capitol Hill that Feinstein's staffers do the real work. 

In a follow-up with the Chronicle, Feinstein said she was rather puzzled by the report, but this isn’t the first report on her mental awareness in the last few years. 

Feinstein entered the Senate in 1992, 30 years ago. 

“Dianne Feinstein came in with Barbara Boxer in the year of the woman, and brought a very different face," UC San Diego Political Science Dean Thad Kousser said. "California was the first state ever to have two female senators, and she has been someone who's broken down so many barriers throughout her career.”

In recent years, however, Kousser said Feinstein, 88, has had a rollercoaster of media coverage. 

“Back in 2020, there's a New Yorker article that said that the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer needed to tell her a couple of times that he was moving on to a different member as the head of the judiciary committee,” he said. 

The San Francisco Chronicle article on Thursday said four U.S. Senators, including three Democrats, a Democratic Congressman, as well as three former Feinstein staffers told the Chronicle that her memory is rapidly deteriorating.

“There are concerns that as she looks towards fulfilling her term, which expires in 2024, perhaps the implication is that they may urge her to resign before that time,” he said. 

Kousser said there are no discussions of major reforms on the national levels to address a situation like this. Voters have their chance every 6 years to decide if someone is mentally fit. 

“Instead, I think what you have is public pressure,” he said.

Feinstein told the Chronicle’s editorial board that she does not plan on stepping down. 

“You have members, like the other U.S. Senator Alex Padilla who is saying he works with her frequently, and she is just as sharp as ever. You have Nancy Pelosi defending her work and saying Senator Feinstein is still a workhorse of the Senate.”

The Atlantic reports that the current Senate has the oldest group of senators that have been in office together. The average age of senators is 64. Throughout history, 301 senators have died while in office. 

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