After a prolonged absence due to an alleged case of shingles, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has made her return to the Senate, signaling the resumption of Democratic efforts to push their agenda. The 89-year-old former mayor of San Francisco, who was reportedly put in a wheelchair outside the Senate on Wednesday, asked wearily, “Where am I going?” before being escorted inside, as reported by the Huffington Post.

Despite her prolonged convalescence, Feinstein cast her first two votes since February 16 upon her return, including one in support of Glenna Wright-Gallo for the position of assistant education secretary. However, NBC News noted that Feinstein still missed two votes on her first day back.

In a statement attributed to her, Feinstein expressed gratitude for the well-wishes she received during her absence and acknowledged the excellent care she received from her medical team in San Francisco. She indicated that she was ready to resume her duties in the Senate, despite lingering side effects affecting her vision and balance, as well as her doctors’ advice to adopt a lighter schedule. Feinstein expressed her eagerness to continue her work on the Judiciary Committee, a crucial role for Democrats, who hold a slim majority in the Senate and a one-person advantage on the committee.

Feinstein’s return is particularly significant as she may play a pivotal role in advancing liberal judges and confirming President Joe Biden’s labor secretary nominee, Julie Su. While concerns over her fitness to serve existed on both sides of the aisle, some Democrats seemed more concerned about the impact her absence had on their political ambitions.

Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) took to Twitter in April, calling for Feinstein’s resignation, arguing that her inability to fulfill her duties was undermining their credibility as elected representatives. Khanna specifically pointed to the delay in approving pro-abortion judges as a consequence of her absence and urged the public to pressure her to step down. Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota echoed Khanna’s sentiments, referring to Feinstein’s continued presence in the Senate as a dereliction of duty.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also voiced her opinion, suggesting that Feinstein’s refusal to retire or show up was causing harm to the judiciary, prompting calls for her retirement. On the other hand, some Republicans criticized Democrats for attempting to pressure Feinstein into retirement for short-term gains.

Despite the controversy surrounding her return, Feinstein’s colleagues expressed their hopes for her recovery and swift return to work. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) emphasized his friendship with Feinstein and criticized the efforts to replace her as being driven by the inability to secure votes for certain judges. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa defended Feinstein, stating that she should be left alone to recover and accusing those pressuring her to retire after years of service of treating her poorly.

Critics argue that Feinstein’s pressured return to the Senate reflects Democrats’ prioritization of power over the well-being of their colleague. Sebastian Gorka, a conservative commentator, referred to the images of the sickly senator returning to work as a testament to the Democratic Party’s pursuit of power at any cost.

With Feinstein’s return, Democrats now have an opportunity to advance their agenda more effectively in the Senate. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) highlighted the significance of her presence, stating that anything requiring a majority vote is now within reach. For instance, Democrats may now have the confidence to debate and vote on measures such as raising the debt limit, which only requires 51 votes.

Feinstein has announced that she will not seek re-election in 2024, suggesting that her time in the Senate is coming to a close. As she continues her work, it remains to be seen how her presence will shape the political landscape and the realization