Dianne Feinstein, 90, a pioneer for women’s rights in the U.S. Senate, with whom she spent 15 years in office
On the floors of the Senate and the House, proceedings paused as leaders took turns paying tribute to Feinstein, whose death was announced Friday morning. She was 90.
As a vase of white roses rested at Feinstein’s seat, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ticked off a list of Feinstein’s legislative accomplishments: the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, her advocacy on marriage equality and climate justice.
Schumer said that the woman would say, “Let me study this issue before taking a position.” “And when she came back — if she believes the cause of the vote was right and vital to many issues she cared about — she not only voted for it, there was no stopping her in getting it done.”
He called for a moment of silence and said that “most of us had the chance to deal with her, and certainly both sides of the aisle respected her.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, recalled working with Feinstein on water legislation in the midst of the state’s record-breaking drought in the mid-2010s. “I remember the hours, the nights that we would have to work to try to work through the challenges. We come from different parties, we have different philosophies — but we put our state first,” he said, speaking to reporters at the Capitol.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate from California in 1992 in a wave election known as “the Year of the Woman” and went on to champion gun control, died yesterday at her home in Washington, D.C. She was 90 years old.
In a speech at the event, Biden paid tribute to Feinstein, who he served with in the Senate for 15 years.
A pioneer for women, she was also a great friend. Dianne made her mark on a wide range of topics, from national security to gun safety. He said the country will miss her, and that he and his wife would also.
Feinstein had her brand of bipartisanship put out of step in her own party by the election of Donald Trump. Democrats who hoped Feinstein would step aside for a new generation of candidates were disappointed – even angry – when she sought and won another 6-year term in 2018 at the age of 85. Some news reports cited apparent memory lapses.
While some Democrats felt Dianne Feinstein was too moderate and stayed in office too long, she’ll also be remembered as a woman who led her city through a moment of extraordinary grief and became an effective champion for important national issues in the U.S. Senate.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who now must appoint Feinstein’s replacement, thanked her for her service to their state and hometown of San Francisco, where both served as mayor.
“She broke down barriers and glass ceilings, but never lost her belief in the spirit of political cooperation,” Newsom said in a statement. She made history by winning all of the races she did, but her story wasn’t only about being the first female in a particular political office, it was what she did for California and for America once she earned it. That’s what she should be remembered for.”
Feinstein left the mayor’s office and went for governor in 1990. She was narrowly defeated by Pete Wilson. Clarence Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings made a change in the political climate.
“As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to announce that both Mayor [George] Moscone and Supervisor [Harvey] Milk have been shot and killed,” Feinstein said in a firm but clearly stunned voice.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown – a longtime political ally of hers – said Feinstein’s handling of the assassinations crisis cemented her reputation.
After the city hall killings, the mayor signed a local gun control law, angering a fringe gun rights organization. Collaborating with groups unhappy with the mayor’s pro-growth, pro-business and other moderate policies, the White Panthers managed to collect enough signatures to place a recall of Feinstein on the ballot in 1983. The recall failed, catapulting Feinstein into easy reelection later that year.
Feinstein won the support of businesses and law enforcement unions when he governed from the center. Her moderate governing style often angered San Francisco’s more liberal activists. She fought against legislation in the 80’s that would have allowed same sex couples to form domestic partnerships. Equal pay for men and women who work the same jobs is guaranteed in legislation she refused to sign.
The DNC was held in San Francisco in 1984. Feinstein landed on the cover of Time magazine and made the short list to be presidential nominee Walter Mondale’s running mate.
Dianne Feinstein, the Founding Father of AIDS, died in her 90th birthday: A reappraisal of the workhorse and tireless advocate for human rights
The federal government spent less money on AIDS in the mid-1980s than San Francisco did. “That really goes to her leadership and a big thank you to her,” Volberding said.
“I don’t recall any moment in the early epidemic when I was told, ‘No, we can’t do that because we don’t have the resources,’ ” recalled Volberding, who became one of the pioneers in AIDS treatment.
When law professor Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual misconduct when they worked together, members of the Judiciary Committee, including Democratic Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama, questioned Hill’s integrity and motivation.
“Many people took a look at that all-male Judiciary Committee and frankly felt they badly botched the job,” Feinstein said campaigning in 1992. Her platform required her to write a woman’s abortion right into federal law.
In Washington, she advocated gun control, overcoming stiff odds to pass a federal ban on assault weapons in 1994. She almost lost reelection that year. She became known as a workhorse, a person who did her homework, and wasn’t afraid to rock the boat.
In 2014, over objections from the Obama administration, she took to the Senate floor to release a comprehensive report on torture by the CIA following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The summary report revealed CIA mistreatment of prisoners, including the use of waterboarding and sleep deprivation.
Tom Blanton, who heads the National Security Archive at George Washington University, says the investigation Feinstein directed made the intelligence community accountable.
Dianne Feinstein, Longest Serving Woman in the Senate, has Died. She Was Born in New Jersey, But Her Grandparents Lived On The Edge
Feinstein missed more than 100 votes in the fifth year of her final term because of a shingles problem.
She returned to Washington three months later and appeared even more frail with side effects from shingles limiting her ability to work.
“I just don’t think she could see what else to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. She was alert and strong enough to serve, Lazarus said.
Feinstein told her third grade class at City Hall that one of them could be mayor one day, according to the person who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Richard was Feinstein’s third husband. Her daughter is currently a judge on the state superior court in San Francisco.
The Placematrix: A Black Woman’s Alternative to the Candidates for the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. Newsom
Earlier this month, Gov. Newsom reiterated on NBC his pledge to appoint a Black woman to fill the Senate seat if a vacancy occurred. There would be no appointment of anyone currently running for the seat until voters can decide next year, and that’s when a placeholder would be created. There are three declared candidates for the House. Lee is a Black woman but has publicly rejected suggestions she would serve as a placeholder.