Sen. Dianne Feinstein is dead at 90. Photos show her time as the longest-serving woman in the Senate. – DAVID RAUDALES


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Sen. Dianne Feinstein is dead at 90. Photos show her time as the longest-serving woman in the Senate.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was the longest-serving female senator in US history.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California died on September 28 at the age of 90.
She was the oldest sitting US senator and the longest-serving woman in the Senate.
She broke barriers as the first woman to chair the Senate Rules and Intelligence committees.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein died on September 28 at the age of 90, bringing her time as the longest-serving woman in the Senate to a close.

Elected in 1992, the Democratic senator from California held office for three decades.

Here’s a look back at her historic career.

Dianne Feinstein was elected to the Senate in 1992, which became known as the “Year of the Woman.”Dianne Feinstein speaks at the Democratic National Convention in 1992.

Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Feinstein previously served as the first female chair of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the first female mayor of San Francisco.

Following the controversial 1991 confirmation hearings during which Anita Hill was questioned by an all-male panel about her sexual-harassment allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, four women were elected to the Senate in 1992, in what was dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”

Feinstein and Barbara Boxer became California’s senators, making it the first state to be represented in the Senate by two women. They were joined by Patty Murray and Carol Moseley Braun, who was the first Black woman elected to the Senate.

Feinstein and Moseley Braun became the first women to sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee.Carol Moseley Braun (left) and Dianne Feinstein during a session of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1993.

Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Feinstein, pictured in 1993, also served as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, from 2016 to 2020.

She was also the first woman to chair the Senate Rules Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee.Dianne Feinstein during an Intelligence Committee hearing.

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Feinstein became chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2009. Under her leadership, the committee investigated the CIA’s interrogation techniques during President George W. Bush’s administration and released a “torture report” condemning the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” much of which remains classified.

She helped pave the way for more women to join her in the Senate.Senators Susan Collins, Patty Murray, Olympia Snowe, Carol Moseley Braun, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Barbara Mikulski, Dianne Feinstein, and Mary Landrieu in 1997.

CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The number of women in the Senate nearly doubled after Feinstein was elected, from four in 1993 to seven in 1995, and then up to nine from 1997 to 2001, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Before Feinstein’s death, there were 25 women in the Senate during the current 118th Congress. Now, there are 24.

One of Feinstein’s landmark legislative achievements was passing an assault-weapons ban in 1994, though it expired after 10 years.Diane Feinstein holds an AK-47 assault rifle during a 2003 appearance with Governor Gray Davis and police chiefs from around the state to urge Congress to reauthorize the assault weapons ban signed into law in 1994.

Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Feinstein was a strong advocate for stricter gun laws, shaped by the 1978 fatal shootings of George Moscone, the mayor of California, and Harvey Milk, the state’s first openly gay man elected to public office. Feinstein found Milk after he’d been shot.

“I remember it, actually, as if it was yesterday,” Feinstein said in a 2008 interview with SFGate. “And it was one of the hardest moments, if not the hardest moment, of my life.”

Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 signed by President Bill Clinton. It expired after 10 years due to lack of Congressional support.

She helped establish the national child-abduction emergency broadcasting system known as Amber Alerts.Kay Bailey Hutchison and Diane Feinstein attend a news conference to speak about Amber Alerts in 2003.

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

The PROTECT Act of 2003 set up alerts to broadcast information about kidnapped children to law enforcement and media. It was named after Amber Rene Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered in 1996, according to the Department of Justice.

Feinstein also successfully pushed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in 2012 and 2022.Dianne Feinstein, Jeanne Shaheen, and Patty Murray hold a news conference in 2012 to call on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Violence Against Women Act, first authored by then-senator Joe Biden in 1994, provides legal protections and services for victims of stalking, domestic violence, and sexual violence.

There were lighter moments during her Senate career as well, like when she shared pretzels and mustard with her Republican colleague Sen. Arlen Specter after winning a bet.Arlen Specter, R-PA, presents pretzels and mustard from Philadelphia to Diane Feinstein as a result of a lost bet on the NBA Finals in 2001.

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Specter, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, bet against Feinstein’s Los Angeles Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals. When the Philadelphia 76ers lost, Specter paid up with pretzels and mustard. If the Lakers had lost, Feinstein would have owed him a crate of oranges.

As the first woman to preside over a presidential inauguration, she spoke at President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony in 2009.Barack Obama listens to Dianne Feinstein during his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States of America in 2009 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Our work is not yet finished, but future generations will mark this morning as the turning point for real and necessary change in our nation,” Feinstein said in her opening remarks. “They will look back and remember that this was the moment when the dream that once echoed across history, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, finally reached the walls of the White House.”

Feinstein was known for her bipartisanship and willingness to work across the aisle, which garnered criticism as Congress became increasingly polarized.Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein attend the Senate Judiciary Committee executive business meeting on Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/POOL

Feinstein hugged Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham after the confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in October 2020, held weeks before the presidential election.

She also said, “This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in.” 

Democrats were furious, with many calling for the senator to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In 2023, Feinstein was absent from the Senate for almost three months due to a case of shingles amid questions about her ability to continue serving in office.Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer escorts Dianne Feinstein as she arrives at the U.S. Capitol following a long absence due to health issues on May 10, 2023.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

In recent years, Feinstein also appeared confused during routine votes and hearings, raising concerns about her age and cognitive abilities.

Some Democratic members of Congress called on Feinstein to resign during her absence, with Rep. Ro Khanna saying, “It is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties.”

She was the oldest sitting senator and the longest-serving woman in the Senate until her death at age 90 on September 28.Dianne Feinstein in the Capitol on September 6, 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

“Senator Feinstein never backed away from a fight for what was just and right,” Feinstein’s chief of staff said in a statement on Friday. “At the same time, she was always willing to work with anyone, even those she disagreed with, if it meant bettering the lives of Californians or the betterment of our nation.”

“There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother,” it continued. “Senator Feinstein was 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.”

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