Tributes to Dianne Feinstein pour in after death at 90: ‘A political pioneer’

‘She was one of the most powerful voices in the Senate, and she blazed a trail for generations of women who followed her into elected office,’ Sen Kirsten Gillibrand wrote

Kelly Rissman
Friday 29 September 2023 15:24 BST
Moment Dianne Feinstein becomes first woman to open presidential inauguration

Tributes to Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving female senator in US history, poured in after the 90-year-old died on Thursday night.

Feinstein passed away after a series of health battles — and a three-decade-long career in the Senate. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle commended the California Democrat’s legacy and life-long committment to public service.

“Senator Dianne Feinstein was a pioneering American. A true trailblazer,” President Joe Biden wrote. “And for Jill and me, a cherished friend.”

“Often the only woman in the room, Dianne was a role model for so many Americans – a job she took seriously by mentoring countless public servants, many of whom now serve in my Administration,” the president continued. “She had an immense impact on younger female leaders for whom she generously opened doors. Dianne was tough, sharp, always prepared, and never pulled a punch, but she was also a kind and loyal friend, and that’s what Jill and I will miss the most.As we mourn with her daughter Katherine and the Feinstein family, her team in the Senate, and the people of California, we take comfort that Dianne is reunited again with her beloved Richard. May God Bless Dianne Feinstein.”

California Democratic congresswoman and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote a touching tribute on Friday: “For decades, Senator Feinstein was a pillar of public service in California: from San Francisco’s City Hall to the United States Capitol. Her indomitable, indefatigable leadership made a magnificent difference for our national security and personal safety, the health of our people and our planet, and the strength of our Democracy.”

“Dianne was a pioneering woman leader, who served as San Francisco’s first female Mayor with unmatched courage, poise and grace,” Ms Pelosi continued. “Standing strong amid horror and heartbreak – from the brutal murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone to the deadly HIV/AIDs epidemic – she offered our City a beacon of strength and hope.“

She highlighted Feinstein’s career, calling her “a champion for the Golden State.” Rep Pelosi added, “Blazing trails as the first woman to lead the powerful Intelligence Committee, she bolstered America’s moral standing and national security with her fierce opposition to the use of torture. On the Judiciary Committee, she authored and passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which helped stem the tide of mass shootings for the ten years it was law and continued urging its renewal as an essential template for ending gun violence. A fierce champion for gender justice, her tireless advocacy was consequential in securing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.”

Feinstein was not only her colleague, but her neighbor and friend, Ms Pelosi added: “Dianne’s extraordinary career will continue to inspire countless young women and girls to pursue public service for generations to come.”

California Gov Gavin Newsom celebrated the late California Senator: “Dianne Feinstein was many things — a powerful, trailblazing U.S. Senator; an early voice for gun control; a leader in times of tragedy and chaos. But to me, she was a dear friend, a lifelong mentor, and a role model not only for me, but to my wife and daughters for what a powerful, effective leader looks like.” He called her a “a political giant, whose tenacity was matched by her grace.”

Mr Newsom added, “She broke down barriers and glass ceilings, but never lost her belief in the spirit of political cooperation. And she was a fighter — for the city, the state and the country she loved. Every race she won, she made history, but her story wasn’t just about being the first woman in a particular political office, it was what she did for California, and for America, with that power once she earned it. That’s what she should be remembered for. There is simply nobody who possessed the strength, gravitas, and fierceness of Dianne Feinstein.”

The junior Senator from California Alex Padilla wrote: “I’ve said it before: you can’t tell the story of California — or American politics — without the trailblazing career of Senator Dianne Feinstein. A champion, an icon, and most importantly, a friend — Dianne will be dearly missed.”

Fellow Sen Tammy Duckworth also praised Feinstein’s pioneering spirit: “Dianne Feinstein was a trailblazing woman who devoted her life to public service. My heart goes out to her loved ones, the people of California and everyone whose life was improved by her work.”

Oregon Democratic Sen Ron Wyden said he was “Heartbroken this morning.” He wrote on X, “Dianne Feinstein was a treasured friend to the Wyden family. She was an extraordinary advocate for San Francisco, for California, and for the West.”

New York Democratic Sen Kirsten Gillibrand said she “was a force to be reckoned with. She was one of the most powerful voices in the Senate, and she blazed a trail for generations of women who followed her into elected office. I was so grateful to have her as my role model, my mentor, and a dear friend.”

New Jersey Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell also praised her record: “Dianne Feinstein has a record of public service almost unrivaled these last 50 years. Her work for the people of San Francisco, California and America are legendary. My prayers are with her family today.”

Florida congressman Maxwell Frost wrote, “Senator Dianne Feinstein was a champion for Gun Violence Prevention that broke barriers at all levels of government. We wouldn’t have had an assault weapons ban if it wasn’t for Senator Feinstein and due to her tireless work, we will win it back. May her memory be a blessing.”

Chris Murphy, a Democratic Senator from Connecticut, also commented on her commitment to stopping gun violence: “From 1994, when she passed the Assault Weapons Ban as a first term Senator, until the tragedy in Newtown, Dianne Feinstein was a lonely voice fighting against gun violence. The modern anti-gun violence movement, now stronger than the gun lobby, would not exist but for Dianne.”

“Senator Feinstein was a trailblazer for women in California politics, and her leadership on gun violence prevention and anti-torture made our nation more just. I wish her loved ones strength during this difficult time,” California Democrat Katie Porter wrote.

Members of the GOP praised her efforts to work across the aisle.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Friday, “Moments ago, the flags at the capitol were lowered in memory of Dianne Feinstein. As a long-standing senator, she broke barriers and blazed trails for women. Her career was historic.”

The California Republican Rep spoke to his experience working with Feinstein in their home state: “Personally, I worked with the Senator for for quite some time, and working together with many bills, but the one that stands out is the water legislation. It was historic, and the first time in California history that in more than 25 years we were able to pass water. It was the WIIN Act, and I remember the hours and the nights that we’d have to work to try to work through, and the challenges.”

Mr McCarthy said, “I believe at the end of the day the trail blazing of the firstwoman-elected mayor even coming from a different party inspired women from both sides of the aisle to seek elected office and have their voices heard. My deepest condolences to her office and office staff.”

Republican Sen Chuck Grassley voiced his condolences: “Sen Feinstein did an outstanding job representing the ppl of California. I worked closely w her as a member of the drug caucus & judiciary cmte. During the time I was chair& she was ranking Democrat we had a wonderful working relationship. She’s a true public servant I’ll miss her.”

Republican Sen Josh Hawley wrote, “Erin and I were saddened to hear of the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein. It has been an honor to serve with her in the Senate and on the Judiciary Committee. No one was more welcoming when I came to the Senate than she, and no one was a better example. She was tough, incredibly smart, and effective. Always willing to work across the aisle to get things done, she was a person of unquestioned integrity. I admired her and will miss her in the Senate. Erin and I send our deepest condolences to her family.”

“Senator Feinstein was a political pioneer with a historic career of public service. Intelligent, hard working & always treated everyone with courtesy & respect. May God grant her eternal rest,” Florida Republican Sen Marco Rubio remarked.

Fellow Florida Republican Sen Rick Scott said, “Ann and I are heartbroken by the loss of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Dianne’s more than 30 years in the Senate reflect a life of service to her state of California and our nation. We are praying for her family, staff and all who knew and loved her.”

Republican Sen Katie Britt added, “Dianne Feinstein lived a life of service, blazing a path for women in the Senate and girls across our nation. In the face of tragedy and tribulations throughout her career, she was fearless. Our prayers are with her loved ones.”

South Carolina Republican Sen Tim Scott sent his prayers to the late Senator’s family: “Saddened to learn of Senator Feinstein’s passing. A true trailblazer, she leaves behind a lasting legacy of service in the Senate. My prayers are with her family during this time of loss.”

Others in the political sphere also remarked on Feinstein’s legacy, showcasing just how much of an impact she made and how many lives she touched.

Hillary Clinton wrote that she was “deeply saddened by the passing of Dianne Feinstein.” Ms Clinton added, “She blazed trails for women in politics and found a life’s calling in public service. I’ll miss her greatly as a friend and colleague and send my condolences to all who loved her.”

DNC Chairperson Jaime Harrison wrote, “I’m absolutely heartbroken to hear of the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein. She was a force for good and a titan of American politics. My deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and constituents. She will be missed. Rest in Peace Senator.”

Shannon Watts, founder of gun safety group Moms Demand Action, called Feinstein “a trailblazer.” She added that the 90-year-old was “the first female president of the San Fransisco Board of Supervisors, the first female mayor of San Fransisco, first woman U.S. senator from California. And one of the first among her colleagues to support gun safety - including Dems.”

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