US Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a progressive Democrat from California who broke gender barriers during her 50 years in politics, died Thursday night at her home in Washington, DC. She had been sick several times before. She was 90 years old.
James Sauls, Feinstein’s chief of staff, confirmed her death in a mid-morning statement, saying: “Her passing is a great loss for so many, from those who loved and cared for her to the people of California that she dedicated her life to serving … There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother. Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state. She left a legacy that is undeniable and extraordinary.”
The Democrat from California was the oldest senator and had said she would be leaving office at the end of her term.
ABC7 Insider was the first to report her death. NBC News also said she had died, naming two people who knew about it.
Feinstein’s last vote in the Senate was late Thursday morning. The reason she died has not been proven yet.
In the past few years, people had asked her to step down because they were worried about her health.
The senator had been in office for a long time. In August, she was rushed to the hospital after tripping and falling in her city of San Francisco, says her office.
“Senator Feinstein briefly went to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a precaution after a minor fall in her home. All of her scans were clear and she returned home,” a spokesperson told The Post.
A spokesperson for the Democrat said that she had “no serious injuries” from the fall.
Feinstein had to miss three months of their time in the Senate because she had shingles.
During her time away, the senator missed dozens of important votes. Some leftists blamed her for slowing down the process of getting President Biden’s controversial picks for federal judgeships through the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In May, she went back to the Senate. She was wheeled into the Capitol with one eye closed pretty much all the way.
A few days later, she told reporters that she didn’t think she had been gone.
“I haven’t been gone,” she said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
When asked whether she meant she had been working from home, Feinstein said: “No, I’ve been here, I’ve been voting.”
When she announced her plans to retire from office in February, Biden praised his former colleague — calling her “a passionate defender of civil liberties and a strong voice for national security policies that keep us safe while honoring our values.”
“I’ve served with more U.S. Senators than just about anyone,” he said in a statement at the time. “I can honestly say that Dianne Feinstein is one of the very best.”
Feinstein was born in San Francisco on June 22, 1933, the daughter of a former model and a doctor.
She started out as the first female president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, then went on to become the first female mayor of San Francisco following the murder of Mayor George Moscone and fellow Supervisor Harvey Milk.
Feinstein said she had heard the gunshots and saw the gunman leaving the supervisors’ office.
“He whisked by, everybody disappeared,” she recounted to CNN in 2017.
“I walked down the line of supervisors’ offices. I walked into one and found Harvey Milk — put my finger in a bullet hole trying to get a pulse.
“You know, it was the first person I’d ever seen shot to death.”
Feinstein became famous in Congress as a strong supporter of gun control. She has been pushing for stricter rules ever since the ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. As chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she oversaw a multi-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation practices after 9/11.
It found that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” did not lead to the collection of important intelligence that could have stopped a terrorist plot. It also found that the CIA lied to lawmakers and the public about the program’s effectiveness and that it was harsher than they said.
Because of the investigation, Congress finally passed a law that makes torture illegal.
But Feinstein got into fights with some of her party’s more left members as she tried to work with Republicans.
People then asked Feinstein to step down as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee after she hugged Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for how he handled the approval hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, who was then a nominee for the Supreme Court.
She finally gave in and said she would step down in November 2020, saying she would focus on fighting climate change and the coronavirus outbreak, according to Politico.
Katie Porter, Adam Schiff, and Barbara Lee are all Democrats running for Feinstein’s spot right now.
When word got out Friday that the Democrat had died, she was honored for her many years of service.
“Sen. Dianne Feinstein was a trailblazer who lived an incredible life dedicated to public service,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in a statement.
“She was one of the most effective legislators in recent memory because of her willingness to work across the aisle in good faith in order to solve complex problems. It was [an] honor to serve with her.
She parted ways with the liberal Democrats on a number of issues, including opposing the idea of single-payer, government-run health care and speaking out against the Green New Deal — which she argued was politically and fiscally unfeasible.
“Susan and I extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Senator Feinstein’s family and staff during this difficult time.”
Feinstein was predeceased by her husband, investment banker Richard Blum, who died last year.
She is survived by her daughter, Katherine Feinstein, a San Francisco County Superior Court judge; her son-in-law, Rick Mariano; and her granddaughter, Eileen Feinstein Mariano.