Dianne Feinstein Is Dead at 90

Longtime Democratic senator had been in failing health
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 29, 2023 8:06 AM CDT
Dianne Feinstein Is Dead at 90
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in 2017.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a centrist Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 1992 in the "Year of the Woman" and broke gender barriers throughout her long career in local and national politics, has died at age 90, report the AP and the New York Times. Feinstein, the oldest sitting US senator, had been in failing health of late and the topic of much conversation about whether she should finish out her current term.

Feinstein was a passionate advocate for liberal priorities important to her state—including environmental protection, reproductive rights, and gun control—but was also known as a pragmatic lawmaker who reached out to Republicans and sought middle ground. She was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969 and became its first female president in 1978, the same year Mayor George Moscone was gunned down alongside Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall by Dan White, a disgruntled former supervisor. Feinstein found Milk's body.

After Moscone's death, Feinstein became San Francisco's first female mayor. In the Senate, she was one of California's first two female senators, the first woman to head the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the first woman to serve as the Judiciary committee's top Democrat. Although Feinstein was not always embraced by the feminist movement, her experiences colored her outlook through her five decades in politics. "I recognize that women have had to fight for everything they have gotten, every right," she told the AP in 2005, as the Judiciary Committee prepared to hold hearings on President George W. Bush's nomination of John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. (Read more Dianne Feinstein stories.)

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