Democrats were furious at the Senate Judiciary Committee chair's inability to perform her duties at a time when the committee was trying to respond to growing concerns about Supreme Court ethical abuses.
The Times reports that Ms. Feinstein's forgetfulness and bewilderment, such as her strange answer to a newspaper denying her absence from the chamber, are more regular than previously thought.
The Times said last year that the California senator looked bewildered about why Kamala Harris, the Senate's vice president, was presiding over the chamber.
"What's she doing here?" she inquired confusedly. (A vice president often presides over Senate proceedings to break ties in a narrowly split Senate).
"Staff members have been overheard explaining to her that she cannot leave yet because there are more votes," the Times says.They push her wheelchair, tell her how and when to vote, and help her understand when she gets confused.”
The news may bolster those who called for the aged California senator's resignation during her vacation. Ms. Feinstein, 89, relies on staffers to remind her about Senate procedure and her previous and future votes, according to many accounts.
Defenders of the senator have dismissed concerns about her basic ability to do her job as sexist and pointed to the continued service of male politicians of similar age, but none have demonstrated Ms. Feinstein's repeated inability to remember basic information.
She announced her 2024 retirement in February. That sparked a big race in blue California, where Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, and Katie Porter have already run.
The state's governor, Gavin Newsom, has said he would select a Black woman to the seat if Ms. Feinstein resigns early, making the election more costly.