Feinstein leaves hospital after ‘minor fall’ in her San Francisco home

Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a wheelchair pushed by an aide as people walk by
Sen. Dianne Feinstein leaves a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on May 11.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was hospitalized Tuesday afternoon after suffering a “minor fall” in her San Francisco home, her office confirmed.

Feinstein’s spokesperson Adam Russell said the hospitalization was a “precaution” and that she returned home after “all of her scans were clear.” The fall occurred in Feinstein’s kitchen, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The Times.

San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jonathan Baxter confirmed that the agency had responded to a “reported medical emergency” early Tuesday afternoon at an address that property records show belongs to the California senator.


In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that he had spoken with Feinstein and that she said “she suffered no injuries.” He added: “I’m glad she is back home now and is doing well.”

Feinstein, 90, has faced scrutiny over her health issues and signs of cognitive decline.

Last month, she started to deliver a speech during a roll call vote of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and appeared confused when an aide interrupted to stop her. She voted after committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) repeatedly told her to “just say, ‘Aye.’”

The Senate minority leader appeared confused at a news conference Wednesday. But America’s leadership is full of aging giants.

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Feinstein’s health problems have occasionally derailed her appearances in California. Last week, she failed to show at an event celebrating San Francisco’s first cable car trip due to a cough, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The former San Francisco mayor was also absent Wednesday from the Lake Tahoe Summit, an annual meeting of lawmakers who represent the area.

Her absence was noted repeatedly as speakers described her contributions to efforts to keeping the lake’s waters clear and pristine. Feinstein helped start the confab in 1997 and has regularly attended throughout the years. (She had planned to skip this year’s summit even before she fell, her office said.)

She has missed half of all Senate votes this year, more than any other senator, according to a ranking by ProPublica. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who was hospitalized for depression earlier this year, was the second-most absent member, missing 36.3% of votes, the nonprofit reported.


In May, a majority of Californians said they believed Feinstein’s declining health made her unfit for office, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the L.A. Times.

And a June survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that her job approval among Californians had dropped from 41% to 31% over the previous eight months, falling below 40% for the first time in the history of the institute’s polling.

Feinstein’s defenders have denounced questions about her fitness for office as sexist and ageist, arguing that aging male lawmakers do not face the same calls to resign.

But powerful male politicians have also been unable to escape scrutiny of their fitness to serve in recent months.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for example, froze midsentence for 32 seconds, unblinking, during his weekly news conference last month before colleagues escorted him away. A crowd jeered at the Republican leader at an event in his home state on Saturday, chanting “Retire! Retire! Retire!”

Feinstein missed weeks of votes in the spring while fighting a severe case of shingles. Her absence threatened to delay confirmation of several of President Biden’s nominees.


She tried to solve that problem by tapping another Democratic senator to temporarily replace her on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Republicans blocked the effort. In May, she returned to Washington after a nearly three-month absence. She stayed in the city for the two-week Fourth of July recess.

She plans to return to D.C. after the Senate’s August recess for a funding fight that could lead to a government shutdown. Democrats will need all of their member’s votes to help fend it off.

Feinstein began her Senate career in 1992 and plans to retire when her term ends in January 2025.

Three Democratic lawmakers — Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam B. Schiff — are running to replace her.

Feinstein recently petitioned a court to give her daughter more control over her late husband’s trust, alleging it is not paying for her medical expenses.

At the Lake Tahoe event Wednesday morning, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) said he had spoken with Feinstein and that she was doing well after “a little stumble.”


“Why all the fuss?” Padilla recounted Feinstein saying to him on the phone when he called to check in. “I’m fine,” Padilla said she told him.

Pelosi also spoke at the summit and described how Feinstein had been coming to the lake her entire life. Pelosi said she wished she could be in attendance.

“It was so unfortunate because this was a minor event,” Pelosi said.

She said that falling is “something that happens in anybody’s kitchen any time,” and that Feinstein’s caretakers suggested she go to the hospital “to be safe because of her age.”

Pelosi added: “She’s remarkable.”

Logan reported from Washington and Oreskes from Kings Beach, Calif.