Feinstein says she will work a lighter schedule on return to U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) walks through the Senate Subway during a vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
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By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said on Wednesday she is ready to resume her duties but with a lighter schedule, after missing nearly three months due to a bout of shingles.

Feinstein, 89, whose return to the chamber restores Democrats' 51-49 majority, said in a statement she is still experiencing some side effects from the shingles virus, including vision and balance impairments, but added that she is "hopeful those issues will subside as I continue to recover."

An aide said Feinstein may at times use a wheelchair to get around the Capitol. Although she announced her return to Washington on Tuesday, she was not present for Senate votes early on Wednesday.

Feinstein had faced growing calls to resign during her months-long absence, notably from fellow California Democrats and the New York Times editorial board.

Her absence made it impossible to pass some of President Joe Biden's judicial nominees, as Republicans both refused to support them and declined to allow Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to appoint a temporary replacement for Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee, as she had requested.

Democrats are expected to need every vote they can get in the upcoming fight to raise the United States' debt ceiling, which put even more pressure on Feinstein to either return or resign and allow California Governor Gavin Newsom to appoint a replacement.

Feinstein announced in February that she would not run again in 2024 for her seat, after Representative Katie Porter, a prominent progressive Democrat from California, announced she would run against Feinstein in a primary.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton and Eric Beech; editing by Jasper Ward and Chizu Nomiyama)