Senator Dianne Feinstein has died at 90 years old. She lived a trailblazing life of public service. She will be remembered as one of the most important political figures of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Senator Feinstein first held public office in 1969, at the age of 35, when she won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She was the first woman to be mayor of San Francisco in 1978 following the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. This experience shaped her politics, and in the Senate, she was a steadfast advocate of gun control, including the 1994 assault weapons ban. As mayor, Dianne Feinstein managed the city's finances with a firm hand, balancing nine budgets in a row. In 1987, City and State Magazine named her the nation's "Most Effective Mayor."
Leaving office in 1988, Feinstein ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990 before winning her Senate seat in 1992. She did so alongside Barbara Boxer, making California the first state to send two women to the Senate. Feinstein became the first woman to be a California senator because she was sworn in first to complete an unfinished term. Feinstein was also the first Jewish female Senator.
Senator Feinstein was a trailblazer, a woman of compassion and conviction with an unwavering commitment to the rule of law. She persisted. A role model to young women, she twice ran unsuccessfully for San Francisco mayor, becoming President of the Board of Supervisors and mayor in 1978 following an assassination, serving two terms. After a defeat in her bid to become governor, she found her place in the United States Senate.
Senator Feinstein listened to the voices of the communities she represented. In 2009, the Senator saved a mother of young children from deportation by sponsoring a private bill to keep Shirley Tan and her family together – at a time when deportations of same-sex partners were routine and marriage equality years away.
Senator Feinstein leaves a legacy that will inspire generations to come.
Martha McDevitt-Pugh, California voter, Democrats Abroad International Chair
In Congress, Feinstein served as the first woman to chair the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. She authored the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, leading to a 10-year restriction on certain semi-automatic weapons. The legislation was prompted by the 101 California Street shooting, when a gunman opened fire at a law firm in San Francisco's financial district, killing eight people.
After Republicans let the Federal Assault Weapons Ban lapse in 2004, she was a vocal proponent of sensible gun control measures, including background checks and assault weapons bans, to make communities safer. Her determination to tackle this challenging issue in the face of political opposition underscores her dedication to the well-being of her constituents and the nation.
DA Israel mourns the death of vanguard Senator Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate. A proud Jew, Feinstein took office in 1992 along with her fellow Jewish Senator, Barbara Boxer, making California the only state to have two women senators. Feinstein spearheaded a host of liberal causes over the course of her career, including gun control and the transition to clean energy. A life-long supporter of Israel, as recently as Wednesday, she was working to admit Israel to the U.S. visa waiver program. She will be sorely missed by Democrats and Jews everywhere. May her memory be a blessing.
Heather Stone, New Jersey Voter living in Israel.
Senator Dianne Feinstein's long and impactful career in the United States Senate has left an indelible mark on American politics. Her unwavering dedication to her constituents, advocacy for sensible policies on critical issues, and commitment to bipartisanship have earned her a well-deserved place in the annals of American political history.
As California’s senior Senator and the longest-serving woman senator ever, Dianne Feinstein has built a reputation as an independent voice, working hard to find commonsense solutions to problems facing California and the nation. I was saddened to hear of the death.
Inge Kjemtrup, California Voter living in London.
Among Senator Feinstein's many legislative accomplishments:
Environment and natural resources
- Climate change - Increased fleetwide fuel economy standards for cars, trucks, and SUVs by at least 10 mpg over ten years, the most significant increase in over two decades and the first congressional action on global warming. Her bipartisan legislation ultimately led the Obama administration to put in place a mandate for a fleetwide 54.5 mpg requirement.
- California desert protection - Protected more than 7 million acres of pristine California desert, the largest such designation in the history of the continental United States. She was also a vocal champion for creating three new national monuments, safeguarding millions of additional acres.
- Lake Tahoe restoration - Passed two bills to preserve and restore this treasured natural resource, a total of $715 million in federal funds to match investments by California, Nevada, and local authorities.
- Healthy forests - Reduced the risk of catastrophic fire in our forests by expediting the thinning of hazardous fuels and providing the first legal protection for old-growth forests in our nation's history.
- Headwaters Forest agreement - Obtained funding and brokering agreement to save the "Headwaters Forest," a 7,500-acre national treasure and the largest privately held stand of uncut old-growth redwoods.
- San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration - Negotiated a public-private purchase of 16,500 acres of salt ponds along the San Francisco Bay - the most significant wetlands restoration project in California history.
- Reviewing CIA use of torture - Oversaw a six-year review of the CIA's detention and interrogation program, culminating in the December 2014 release of the report's executive summary and subsequent legislation with Senator John McCain outlawing torture.
- Revitalizing the Senate Intelligence Committee - Oversaw the enactment of six consecutive intelligence authorization bills following a five-year drought.
- FISA reform - Required the federal government to follow the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) when conducting electronic surveillance of American citizens for foreign intelligence purposes.
- Border security and visa entry reform - Helped prevent terrorists from entering the United States through loopholes in the immigration system.
- Criminalization of border tunnels - Closed a loophole in federal law by criminalizing the act of constructing or financing a tunnel or underground passage across an international border into the United States.
- Protecting America's seaports - Secured 361 seaports from terrorism and organized crime by creating new criminal offenses.
Crime and Justice
- Reauthorizing Violence Against Women Act - Introduced and helped secure passage of legislation to extend VAWA until 2027, including critical programs that help respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- Assault Weapons Ban - Prohibited manufacturing and selling military-style assault weapons from 1994 to 2004.
- Crime victims' rights - Gave victims of violent crime a core set of procedural rights under federal law and ensured they have standing to assert their rights before a court.
- Combat Meth Act - Provided law enforcement the tools needed to combat the spread of methamphetamine by restricting the sale of products necessary to make meth and authorizing $585 million for enforcement, training, and research into meth treatment.
- National AMBER Alert Network - Created a nationwide AMBER Alert communications network to help law enforcement find abducted children.
- Phthalate ban - Protected children from harmful phthalate chemicals in toys using the precautionary principle.
- Regulating Internet pharmacies - Banned rogue Internet pharmacies from selling drugs without prescriptions.
- Breast Cancer Research Stamp - The stamp has raised nearly $100 million for breast cancer research.
Her husband predeceased Senator Feinstein, 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.
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