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Dianne Feinstein, Longest-Serving Female US Senator, Dies at 90

Washington, DC, USA – Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving female US senator in history, has passed away at the age of 90 after months of deteriorating health.

Feinstein, a Democrat from California, died Thursday evening, September 28, 2023 at her Washington home, her office confirmed.

“There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother,” James Sauls, Feinstein’s chief of staff, said in a statement on Friday. He described her as “a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state”.

“She left a legacy that is undeniable and extraordinary. There is much to say about who she was and what she did,” Sauls added. “But for now, we are going to grieve the passing of our beloved boss, mentor, and friend.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered an emotional tribute from the Senate floor on Friday morning.

Struggling to hold back his tears at moments, Schumer remembered Feinstein, declaring her as “one of the most amazing people to ever grace the Senate”.

Feinstein’s Senate desk was elegantly covered in black cloth as a mark of respect and mourning, supporting a vase filled with fresh white roses. Additionally, in her honour, flags around the Capitol were lowered to half-staff.

Dedicating her life to public service, Feinstein served as the mayor of San Francisco before becoming a dominant force in the Democratic Party since her election to the Senate in 1992.

Throughout her tenure, she has been instrumental in many of Capitol Hill’s seminal legislations, most notably the federal assault weapons ban in 1994 and the 2014 CIA torture report.

Despite her unparalleled contributions, Feinstein’s later years were overshadowed by health concerns and her continued service during a time when thin party margins in Congress prompted scrutiny over aging legislators.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi commemorated Feinstein as a “champion for the Golden State,” while Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin labeled her as “one of the great ones.” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a touching tribute on the Senate floor, noted, “America is a better place because of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.”

President Joe Biden, who worked alongside Feinstein for over 15 years, remembered her as a “cherished friend.”

Born in 1933 in San Francisco, Feinstein’s career was marked by trailblazing achievements. From becoming the first female chair of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to the initial woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee, her commitment to breaking barriers was evident.

Her public service journey began under tragic circumstances when she was sworn in as San Francisco’s first female mayor following the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978.

Feinstein’s legacy also underscores her bipartisan spirit. While a proud representative of a liberal stronghold, she was known for her eagerness to bridge political divides.

Her influential Senate tenure also made a mark on popular culture, most notably being portrayed by Annette Bening in the 2019 film “The Report.”

Though her passing marks the end of an era, Feinstein’s legacy as a groundbreaking female legislator and a champion for justice and bipartisan collaboration will undoubtedly continue to influence generations to come.

Her passing grants California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom the authority to nominate a successor to complete her term, which is set to end in early January 2025.

In earlier discussions with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Newsom committed to selecting a Black woman for an interim appointment should Feinstein’s seat become vacant.

This development comes at a critical juncture for Congress, as lawmakers grapple with the potential of a government shutdown, even though the Democrats still retain their Senate majority without Feinstein.