A confused Dianne Feinstein has to be prompted to vote

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An apparently confused Sen. Dianne Feinstein began launching into her remarks during a vote on an $823 billion military budget Thursday, and had to be prompted by colleagues multiple times to simply vote "aye."

It was the latest public moment of confusion for the 90-year-old senator who spent weeks away from Washington, D.C., for shingles and complications from shingles earlier this year. Feinstein also raised eyebrows when she told reporters in May she "hadn't been gone," despite her lengthy absence, according to the Los Angeles Times and Slate.

On Thursday, when Feinstein was prompted to vote during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Feinstein paused. She was told by a colleague to "say aye."

"Pardon me?" Feinstein asked.

"Aye," the colleague responded.

"Yeah," Feinstein said.

"Just say—" the colleague interjected.

"I would like to support a yes vote on this," Feinstein continued. "It provides $823 billion, that's an increase of $26 billion for the Department of Defense. And it funds priorities submitted—"

Colleagues around Feinstein whispered.

"Just say aye," committee Chairwoman and Washington Sen. Patty Murray said.

"Aye," Feinstein finally said.

A Feinstein spokesperson told CBS News that the senator was "trying to complete all of the appropriations bills before recess, the committee markup this morning was a little chaotic, constantly switching back and forth between statements, votes, and debate and the order of bills."

"The senator was preoccupied, didn't realize debate had just ended and a vote was called. She started to give a statement, was informed it was a vote and then cast her vote," the spokesperson said.

Feinstein's remarks come one day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 81, froze during a weekly Senate GOP press conference. An aide to McConnell claimed the senator was "lightheaded," and McConnell later said he was "fine." But the moment clearly aroused the concern of McConnell's colleagues.

Republicans offer continued backing of McConnell after freezing episode

Feinstein announced earlier this year she wouldn't run for reelection in 2024, but she intends to serve the remainder of her term.

During her prolonged absence, Democrats were peppered with questions about whether Feinstein is fit to serve. In May, Sen. Dick Durbin said he couldn't be the judge of that, and "she has to make that decision for herself."

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