Sen. Feinstein was confused by VP Harris presiding over the Senate last year, per a New York Times report.
"What is she doing here?" Feinstein said, according to an unnamed individual who was present at the time.
Some lawmakers have called into question the veteran Democratic lawmaker's fitness for office.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California was confused by Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over the upper chamber last year, with the veteran lawmaker questioning why her onetime Senate colleague was in the room, according to The New York Times.
The report comes as Feinstein — who has had several health challenges this year and who has been questioned about her fitness for remaining in office through the end of her term in January 2025 — has sought to reassert herself in Washington.
Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor who has served in the Senate since 1992, has for decades been one of the most respected voices on Capitol Hill, especially as it relates to national security and intelligence matters.
But according to the Times report, Feinstein appeared unaware as to why Harris, who during the previous two-year congressional term broke numerous ties in her capacity as president of the Senate, was taking up her constitutional role.
"What is she doing here?" Feinstein, 89, asked of Harris, according to an unnamed individual who was present at the time.
During the first two years of President Joe Biden's first term in office, the Senate was split 50-50, which required the president to win the support of every Democratic member to pass his most ambitious priorities. So Harris — who also served alongside Feinstein as a California senator from 2017 to 2021 — was a frequent presence in the well of the chamber as she was the deciding vote for many key bills and nominations.
In 2022, four lawmakers and three former Feinstein staffers told the San Francisco Chronicle that the senator's memory was "rapidly deteriorating," with them remarking that the senator was no longer able to fully represent her nearly 40 million constituents without considerable assistance from aides.
This year, Feinstein endured complications from shingles, which kept her away from the Senate from February until May and stymied some of Biden's judicial nominations in a Judiciary Committee with a one-vote Democratic majority. Upon her return, a New York Times report then disclosed that she also suffered from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a neurological disorder that in the senator's case was brought on by her bout with shingles.
Rep. Ro Khanna, a fellow Bay Area lawmaker, in April called on Feinstein to resign from office, and reiterated his position this month.
"I'm hopeful that people who are close to her can talk to her and just say, 'Look, end your service with dignity. Step aside, let the governor appoint someone,'" he said during a recent MSNBC interview.
Feinstein's staffers have sought to safeguard the senator from photographers and journalists since arriving back on Capitol Hill, according to The Los Angeles Times, as she seeks to reacclimate herself to her work.
Insider reached out to Feinstein's office for comment.
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