The California US senator Dianne Feinstein, 90, was hospitalized on Tuesday evening after suffering a fall in her home, a spokesperson said.
“Senator Feinstein briefly went to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a precaution after a minor fall in her home,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “All of her scans were clear and she returned home.”
At 90, Feinstein is the oldest serving US senator. She has said she will retire at the end of her term next year. The race to succeed her is heating up, the former House intelligence chair Adam Schiff competing with two other representatives, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.
Earlier this year, Feinstein was absent from Congress for nearly three months while suffering from shingles. Since her return, she has sometimes appeared frail and confused.
The Chronicle said Feinstein had been due to attend an event celebrating the city’s cable cars on 2 August, but had missed it after developing a cough.
The first woman to be mayor of San Francisco, Feinstein was elected to the US Senate in 1992. Between 2017 and 2021, she led Democrats on the judiciary committee.
She is not the only prominent US politician to face questions about her age and health.
The 81-year-old Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has suffered a number of falls and last month froze during remarks to reporters, prompting both expressions of concern and calls for him to step down.
At an event in Kentucky on Saturday, McConnell was heckled with calls of “Retire!”
The two candidates expected to contest the presidential election next year, the Democratic president, Joe Biden, and the former Republican president Donald Trump, are 80 and 77 respectively.
But Feinstein’s age and health problems – side effects of shingles included encephalitis, or swelling of the brain – came into sharp focus when she was absent from Congress, given the need for her vote on judicial nominations.
Some observers said calls for her to retire were ageist and sexist, and would not have been aimed at the likes of Chuck Grassley, the 89-year-old Iowa Republican who also sits on the judiciary committee.
Rejecting such claims, the Vanity Fair columnist and politics podcaster Molly Jong-Fast said Feinstein was “fundamentally … a public servant, there to serve the public. And this idea that somehow because she’s a woman or because she’s older that she should be immune from [calls to quit] is really ridiculous”.