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Sen. Dianne Feinstein chides staffers as they race to prep her for stopgap government funding vote: 'I don't even know what that is'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/29/2022 wrojas@insider.com (Warren Rojas)
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California walks through the Senate subway on her way to a vote at the US Capitol on September 12, 2022 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California walks through the Senate subway on her way to a vote at the US Capitol on September 12, 2022 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Dianne Feinstein got angry with aides trying to debrief her about a pending vote on Thursday.
  • "I don't even know what that is," the 89-year-old Democrat said of a standard stopgap funding bill.
  • Critics from both parties have questioned Feinstein's cognition and judgment in recent years.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein grew frustrated with staffers trying to prep her for what's become a routine Senate vote on Thursday, blurting out "I don't even know what that is" after aides asked if she had questions about the latest stopgap funding bill. 

The internal discussion, which took place along a bank of elevators in the Senate basement and was loud enough for Insider to overhear, bubbled over into outrage as Feinstein struggled to get her bearings before the midafternoon vote. 

As they escorted her from the Senate subway to the elevators that whisk lawmakers to within steps of the chamber on the second floor, Feinstein's aides tried to explain the pending issue to the 89-year-old California Democrat. 

"This is a vote on the continuing resolution. Do you have any questions about it?" a male staffer said right before Feinstein snapped at him. She then fished a slip of paper from her purse before stepping into an elevator with her handlers.

This fits the pattern of kid-glove treatment Feinstein's been getting as her cognition and judgment increasingly come into question after three decades on Capitol Hill. 

Insider delved into what work is like for aging lawmakers as part of its "Red, White, and Gray" project, which explores the costs, benefits, and dangers of life in a democracy helmed by those of advanced age.

Feinstein's office did not immediatley respond to requests for comment about why the 6-term lawmaker might have been puzzled by in this particular case.  

She has likely cast dozens of votes to keep the government from abruptly shutting down during her tenure in DC, given that Congress hasn't passed the required spending bills on time in over two decades. 

 

The vote to keep the government operating through December 16, which Feinstein wound up supporting, passed 72-25. 

Feinstein's outburst comes on the heels of Joe Biden awkwardly trying to touch base with late Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski Wednesday during an event at the White House. 

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