Honoring Dianne Feinstein
By Reva Lingala
On September 29, California Senator Dianne Feinstein passed away in her home in Washington DC. Feinstein was suffering from shingles earlier this year, upon her return to the Senate, she appeared very frail. Members of Congress made tributes to her and gave speeches remembering her legacy. Former President Bill Clinton called her a trailblazer “of civil rights and civil liberties, environmental protection and strong national security.” President Joe Biden also referred to Feinstein as a “role model for so many” and a “pioneering American.” As the longest-serving female senator, Feinstein left a huge impact on members of Congress.
Feinstein was born in San Francisco in 1933. She was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969 where she served as the first female president. Following the death of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, Feinstein became the first female mayor of San Francisco. As mayor of San Francisco, her first challenge was to oversee policies regarding the cable car system in the city. Throughout her time as mayor, she was seen as a moderate Democrat. In 1990, she ran for governor of California but was unsuccessful.
Following her unsuccessful campaign, Feinstein ran for U.S. Senate in a 1992 special election where she defeated Republican John Seymour. She was one of California’s first female senators, the first woman to head the Senate Intelligence Committee and to serve as the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat. She was known for her bipartisan views which helped her succeed throughout her career, especially in recent years. The senator was known for not backing down and her sharp comebacks when someone challenged her.
Feinstein was most significantly known when the Senate approved her amendment to a crime bill to ban the manufacturing and sale of certain types of assault weapons. President Bill Clinton would later sign the bill into law in 1994. Though the assault weapons ban expired 10 years later and was never renewed, it was an important win in her career. Throughout her career, she pushed for stricter gun control measures because of her memory of finding Harvey Milk’s body after he was assassinated.
In recent years her health started to visibly decline. Earlier this year she announced that she would not run for a sixth term before she passed away. California Governor Gavin Newsom is now responsible for appointing someone to serve out the remainder of her term.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi! My name is Reva and I am currently a senior in high school. I compete in speech and debate and mock trial which has led me to discover my passion for politics and law. I’ve always enjoyed writing which is why I decided to join Women in Politics. In my spare time, I enjoy baking and going on walks.