Feinstein’s return to the Senate recalls its past heroics and persistent problems

California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s return to Senate duty highlights the chamber’s struggle with issues of ageing, illness, and absence, which have long been a part of its history.

Senatorial absenteeism History: Feinstein, the oldest member currently in the Senate, had been missing much of the current session due to health issues, resulting in her missing 91 votes, more than any other senator.
* Her absence also delayed the confirmation of several of President Biden’s appointments, as her vacant judiciary committee seat resulted in a tie among Democrats.
* Feinstein has refused to resign despite public calls from some Democrats for her to do so.
* This triggers questions about the Senate’s means of handling absences due to old age or sickness, issues that have been present throughout its history.

Historical Precedents: Previous senators have continued their duties despite serious health conditions, often casting votes in dramatic circumstances.
* California Senator Clair Engle, despite recovering from brain tumor surgery, was carried into the Senate chambers to cast a crucial vote for the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
* Senator Pete Wilson, after undergoing emergency surgery for acute appendicitis, was transported from a hospital by ambulance to cast a pivotal vote on a Reagan budget plan.

Institutional Issues Overview: The Senate has been faced with the problem of long-term senator absences due to health issues, but definitive solutions have not been sought.
* Instances of long-term absence due to illness or ageing were not anticipated by the framers of the Constitution.
* The Senate retains the power to expel members, but such a drastic action would require a two-thirds vote and faces significant opposition due to its potential partisan impact.
* One proposal suggested the Senate adopt a system for proxy voting, with senators casting votes remotely when they’re unable to be physically present.

Future Implications: Feinstein’s case exemplifies the Senate’s need to resolve its internal issues properly, especially given the critical role each senator plays in closely divided legislatures.
* Feinstein’s recent illness has yet to generate a major crisis, but her party’s current one-seat majority in the Senate could make such a crisis imminent at any moment.
* The Senate’s dependence on the individual ability of its members raises questions about its overall viability in the face of unpredictable health incidents.
* As yet, no clear standard for handling such issues consistently has been established, leaving the Senate to grapple with its internal struggles.

View original article on NPR

This summary was created by an AI system. The use of this summary is subject to our Terms of Service.

Contact us about this post






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *