Biden has confidence in Feinstein’s ability to serve, Psaki says

AP/Susan Walsh
Jen Psaki

President Biden still has confidence in Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) ability to serve in the wake of a report detailing concerns from some congressional colleagues about her mental fitness.

“Yes. She’s a longtime friend, a proud public servant and someone he has long enjoyed serving with and working with,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters when asked if Biden has confidence in the California senator.

The San Francisco Chronicle last week published an article that cited four senators, three of whom are Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and a House Democrat from California, who raised concerns that Feinstein’s memory is deteriorating and questioned if she could still do her job without significant staff assistance. Feinstein routinely has a staffer with her as she goes to and from Senate votes in the Capitol.

Feinstein, who is 88, is the oldest member of Congress. She won reelection in 2018, and her term runs through 2024. If Democrats keep the Senate majority next year, Feinstein is in line to become Senate pro tempore, a position that would put her third in the presidential line of succession.

The senator’s mental fitness for the job has been the subject of previous reports. Politico reported in 2020 that Democrats were privately worried that Feinstein, then the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, could not handle leading committee Democrats on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.

In a statement last week responding to the Chronicle article, Feinstein defended her ability to do the job and serve the people of California.

“I remain committed to do what I said I would when I was reelected in 2018: fight for Californians, especially on the economy and the key issues for California of water and fire,” the senator said in a statement. “While I have focused for much of the past year on my husband’s health and ultimate passing, I have remained committed to achieving results and I’d put my record up against anyone’s.”

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