Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) returned to the Senate floor earlier this month after a bout with shingles kept her from work. But a recent New York Times report outlines the 89-year-old lawmaker’s heavy reliance on staff and aides and describes moments of concerning memory loss. The report calls into question the senator’s ability to function in the Senate.

While they serve the typical roles of congressional staffers, Feinstein’s aides also help the lawmaker in her old age as her health declines. The report outlines a concerning example from last year when Feinstein reportedly expressed confusion when Vice President Kamala Harris was presiding over the Senate for an important vote. Staffers were heard explaining the vote and the circumstances to the Senator.

As she works on a limited schedule, Feinstein is strictly protected by staffers. She is rarely photographed and brought near reporters because staffers and Capitol Police act as a barrier.

A number of Democrats and California constituents have criticized the staffers’ roles and Feinstein’s inability to work without them.

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Feinstein has refused to relinquish her position despite her declining health.

“We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) tweeted when Feinstein’s refusal prevented Democrats from adding judges to federal benches in April. “While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.”

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