Hot mic catches confused Feinstein being told to vote 'aye' in awkward committee moment

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., appeared confused Thursday during a routine Senate committee proceeding, where she began reading from her prepared remarks instead of saying "aye" during a roll call vote.

The moment involving Feinstein — the oldest serving member of the Senate at age 90 — came as the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee was taking roll ahead of a vote on the defense appropriations bill.

When it came Feinstein's turn to say "aye," as all members of the subcommittee do in order to have their votes recorded, the longtime California senator seemingly froze up.


When it came Sen. Dianne Feinsteins turn to say "aye," as all members of the subcommittee do in order to have their votes recorded, the longtime Democratic California senator seemingly froze up and began reading. (Senate Committee on Appropriations)

"Pardon me," Feinstein responded.

"Aye," Murray reiterated.

Instead of registering her vote, Feinstein launched into remarks in favor of the bill, a process that was slated to come later in the meeting after the roll call is completed.

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

Feinstein was cut off by a staff member who appeared to tell the senator that the committee was still in the process of calling roll.

"Just say, 'Aye,'" Murray told Feinstein once more.

"Okay, just..." Feinstein said as she appeared to remain confused about what was taking place at the time.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is shown arriving back at the U.S. Capitol in May after her nearly three-month absence from the chamber following a shingles diagnosis. (Chip Somodevilla, Kevin Dietsch, Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Laughing, Feinstein then appeared to realize her mistake and said, "Aye."


In a statement to Fox News Digital, a Feinstein spokesperson explained that the meeting had gotten somewhat "chaotic."

"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."

Feinstein, who was first elected to represent the Golden State in the Senate in 1992, announced in February that she would not be running for re-election in 2024.

"I campaigned in 2018 on several priorities for California and the nation: preventing and combating wildfires, mitigating the effects of record-setting drought, responding to the homelessness crisis and ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health care," she said at the time. "Congress has enacted legislation on all of these topics over the past several years, but more needs to be done — and I will continue these efforts."

On March 2, Feinstein revealed that she had been hospitalized with shingles in San Francisco, but said she hoped to return to the Senate later that month.

After being absent from the chamber for almost three months following the diagnosis, Feinstein returned to work at the Capitol on May 11.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., listens during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup hearing on July 20, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

With the help of her staff, Feinstein was rolled into the Capitol via a wheelchair as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., walked alongside her. Her return to work restored the Democrats' 51-49 majority in the Senate.


The incident involving Feinstein on Thursday came one day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 81, appeared to freeze up during a news conference with other Republican leaders following their weekly party luncheon on Wednesday.

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