Senator Dianne Feinstein has died at age 90 on Thursday, September 28. A family member shared the news of her passing to The New York Times. Her staff was reportedly being told of her passing at 9 a.m. The California politician made history as the woman to serve in the Senate for the longest period of time, and her impact will surely be felt throughout the political world.
Feinstein’s death came a little over a month after she suffered a fall in her San Francisco home. She was briefly hospitalized, but her office released a statement saying she was cleared to return home, per The Associated Press. They said she “briefly went to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a precaution after a minor fall in her home,” but her scans were cleared.
Born in San Francisco in June 1933, Feinstein spent much of her life serving the people of California. Her political career began as the San Francisco County Supervisor in 1969, a position she held for nine years. After that, she went on to become the Mayor of San Francisco in 1978, a position she held for two four-year terms. Following her time as mayor, she made a run for governor in California in 1990 but lost to Republican Senator Pete Wilson.
After Wilson had to step away from the Senate to become governor, Feinstein ran for his empty seat in the special election and won in 1992. She was re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2006, 2012, and 2018. She had announced that she didn’t intend to run again in 2024.
During her lengthy tenure in the Senate, Feinstein served on a wide variety of committees and subcomittees. She had committee assignments to the Committee on Appropriations, Committee on the Judiciary, Committee on Rules and Administration, and the Select Committee on Intelligence. She had many accomplishments in a variety of fields, including reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, passing legislation to combat climate change, overseeing a review of the CIA use of torture, and much more, according to her Senate bio.
As the longest-serving female senator, Feinstein has called out sexism on many occasions. “Let the record show that you can be a United States senator for 21 years. You can be 79 years old. You can be the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and one of the most recognizable and widely-respected veteran public servants in your nation. But if you are female while all of those things, men who you defeat in arguments will still respond to you by calling you hysterical and telling you to calm down. They’ll patronize you and say they admire your passion, ‘sweetie,’ but they deal in facts, not your silly, girly feelings. It’s inescapable. You can set your watch by it,” she said, per Contact Senators.
Beginning in March 2023, Feinstein did take an extended leave from the Senate in March 2023, after she was diagnosed with shingles. Her absence led to many slow downs in the Senate and difficulties for democrats to pass certain legislation, leading to many to call for her resignation, per FiveThirtyEight. Upon her return in May, there had been many questions about Feinstein’s abilities to govern given her age and health, per The New York Times.
Feinstein was married three times throughout her life. Her third and final marriage was to investment banker Richard C. Blum from 1980 until his death in 2022. She’s survived by her daughter Katherine Feinstein, who she had with her first husband Jack Berman. Katherine is an attorney and former judge. She currently serves as the President of the San Francisco Fire Commission.