Senator Dianne Feinstein, Longtime California Representative, Passes Away at 90
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a prominent figure in Californian and American politics, passed away Thursday night at the age of 90. Feinstein had represented California in the Senate since 1992 and held the distinction of being the Senate’s oldest member. Earlier this year, she had announced her intention to retire at the end of her term due to health concerns and increasing calls for her resignation.
The California Democrat had been at the Capitol on Wednesday, where she participated in a vote shortly before noon. However, she subsequently missed two votes that took place later in the day.
Her office confirmed her passing with a statement: “Sadly, Senator Feinstein passed away last night at her home in Washington, D.C. 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.”
Feinstein’s health had been a subject of concern in recent times. She battled the shingles virus earlier this year, which kept her away from Capitol Hill for a 10-week period. Last month, she was briefly hospitalized following a fall. In her final months in the Senate, she was often seen using a wheelchair and appeared to be disoriented at times. During a speech vote, she displayed confusion about her whereabouts and actions and seemingly had no recollection of her extended absence from Washington, D.C., when asked by a reporter.
In April 2022, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article in which some of Feinstein’s political colleagues questioned her fitness to serve. In response, she issued a statement reaffirming her commitment to her duties and her constituents.
Feinstein was widely recognized for her advocacy of gun control throughout her political career. As the mayor of San Francisco in 1984, she proposed a ban on handguns in the city and later authored the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
Her stance on abortion rights was complex. While she voted against a proposal to ban partial-birth abortion in 2003, she supported the lifting of the Senate filibuster rule to protect abortion rights after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Feinstein’s legacy also extended to LGBTQ+ rights. In 2022, she sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, which required federal and state governments to recognize same-sex marriages.
Her retirement announcement in February earned praise from President Joe Biden, her former Senate colleague, who described her as “one of the very best” among the senators he had served with.