(NewsNation) — Some colleagues of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are reportedly worried about her “rapidly deteriorating” memory and whether she’s fit for the job, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Feinstein, 88, is the oldest sitting U.S. senator, and in March 2021, she became the longest-serving U.S. senator from California.
“It’s bad, and it’s getting worse,” one anonymous Democratic senator told The Chronicle, adding that Feinstein has difficulty keeping up with conversations.
The newspaper states that Feinstein doesn’t seem to fully recognize longtime colleagues anymore and that one person had to reintroduce themselves to her multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours.
Staffers also reportedly told The Chronicle that it appears Feinstein is no longer able to fulfill her job duties without the help of her staff.
NewsNation reached out to Feinstein for a response on the accuracy of the comments made by her colleagues and received the following statement:
“I remain committed to do what I said I would when I was re-elected in 2018: fight for Californians, especially on the economy and the key issues for California of water and fire.
“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.
“In the past few months, I successfully led the reauthorization of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, secured more direct government funding for my state than any other Democratic senator other than the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and secured additional funding to retain federal firefighters to help California prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.
“The real question is whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am.”
The Chronicle also cited lawmakers who are defending Feinstein’s capabilities.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said it’s “unconscionable that, just weeks after losing her beloved husband of more than four decades and after decades of outstanding leadership to our city and state, she is being subjected to these ridiculous attacks that are beneath the dignity in which she has led and the esteem in which she is held.”
Journalist Eric Garcia, a senior Washington correspondent for The Independent, says it’s important to recognize that this isn’t about age.
“When she does answer questions, a lot of times it makes news because she’ll say something that is a little jarring,” Garcia said during an appearance Thursday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”
“She was sharp for a long time. I would say, even up to 2018 when she was running for reelection. That’s why it is so noticeable. This is a woman who is a pioneer in California politics,” Garcia added.
Conservative strategist Charmaine Yoast and Democratic strategist Bernard Whitman also shared their view on age limits in Congress during an appearance on “Banfield.” (See the video below.)
Feinstein’s term is set to expire in 2024.