Senator Dianne Feinstein dies at age 90

October 2, 2023

Senator Dianne Feinsten (D-California), one of the Senate’s most prominent female legislators, has died at the age of 90, a person with knowledge of her passing has confirmed.

Punchbowl first reported the news of Feinstein’s death.

According to a report by The Hill, Feinstein served three decades as a senator from California, becoming an icon and a trailblazer in the process.

A former mayor of San Francisco, Feinstein was the longest-serving member of the Senate Democratic conference—and during her Senate tenure left a mark on a range of issues, including national security and gun control.

Feinstein, who had been struggling with her health, had missed some work last week.

“She didn’t feel well this morning,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said on Thursday, September 28—noting that Feinstein was unable to attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Feinstein had taken part in Senate votes on Thursday morning.

Feinstein had to rely on a wheelchair to get around the Senate after she missed nearly three months of work in Washington because of a severe bout with shingles earlier this year.

She was first elected to the Senate in 1992, which became known as the Senate’s “year of the woman” after Sens. Patty Murray (D-Washington), Carol Moseley Braun (D-Illinois), and Barbara Boxer (D-California) were elected that same year.

Feinstein’s death leaves a vacancy on the powerful Judiciary Committee and shrinks the Senate Democratic majority to 50 seats.  California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will appoint her temporary replacement.  

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) praised Feinstein as a “legend” in a statement to the Bay Area’s ABC7. 

“She’s a legend. A legend in California as the first woman senator. A legend in the Senate. She was the leader on so many different issues,” he said.  

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) told the Bay Area outlet that Feinstein was “an icon for women in politics.”

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis (North Carolina), who served with Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised her as a “trailblazer.”

“She was one of the most effective legislators in recent memory because of her willingness to work across the aisle in good faith in order to solve complex problems,” he said.

Research contact: @thehill